Two RSC shows transfer from Stratford to Barbican

Published: 11 June 2024
Reporter: Steve Orme

“Laugh-out-loud funny, rude and anarchic world”: The Buddha of Suburbia
Mathew Baynton (Bottom) and Sirine Saba (Titania) in A Midsummer Night’s Dream Credit: Pamela Raith

The Wise Children and Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Hanif Kureishi’s The Buddha of Suburbia is to transfer to London’s Barbican Theatre.

Emma Rice, artistic director of Wise Children, adapted with Kureishi and directed The Buddha of Suburbia, which premièred in the Swan Theatre, Stratford in April 2024.

Rice said, “I’ve truly loved making this show and spending time immersed in Hanif’s laugh-out-loud funny, rude and anarchic world. His razor-sharp wit is The Buddha of Suburbia’s secret weapon but beneath the jokes lies deep, profound and pure love.

“In the rehearsal room, I was moved to tears daily by this powerful and political piece and I’m absolutely thrilled that it’s transferring to the Barbican. I want as many people as possible to experience this joyful production.”

Kureishi added, “I worked on this idea with Emma for a while without much of a notion of what it would actually look or sound like. Emma is a wonderfully visual director; her shows are great to look at. But I believe that if you’re lucky enough to work with an artist like her, you must let them be as creative and as original as they want to be.

“And so, when I finally got to see the show, live-streamed to my computer at home, I fell in love with it straight away: the colour, costumes, music and of course her brilliant casting. I was delighted by the response to the show both from critics and from the audience who always had a good time.

“Now I’m very excited to see the show in another iteration at the Barbican in front I hope of a young and diverse London crowd. We want to give them as good a time as the patrons in Stratford had.”

Casting is to be announced for The Buddha of Suburbia, which will run at the Barbican from Tuesday 22 October until Saturday 16 November. Press night will be Tuesday 29 October.

RSC co-artistic directors Daniel Evans and Tamara Harvey have announced their first winter season at the Barbican, which features a second transfer from Stratford, director Eleanor Rhode’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Mathew Baynton will again play Bottom in the Shakespeare play, which will run from Tuesday 3 December until Saturday 18 January 2025. Press night will be Tuesday 10 December.

Harvey and Evans said, “we’re so proud that these two productions, led by two brilliant directors, will play the Barbican stage later this year. Together they encapsulate one of our core missions at the RSC: to bring people together to experience new plays side by side with those of our house playwright to deepen our understanding of ourselves, each other and the world around us, and bring joy. Both these productions are naughty, soulful and entertaining.”

    Related listings

  • The Buddha of Suburbia - Based on the novel by Hanif Kureishi, adapted for the stage by Emma Rice with Hanif Kureishi (Royal Shakespeare Company with Wise Children)
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream - William Shakespeare (Royal Shakespeare Company)

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