When the Barbican's artistic director Graham Sheffield waved good-bye to the Royal Shakespeare Company earlier this year, it was with a certain amount of relief as well as regret, and now that the vast Barbican Theatre is freed of its regular commitment to the RSC's London season, it has freed up the space for other things, including an expanded (though rather later than usual) Barbican International Theatre Events (BITE) festival for 2002, the fifth year that it has taken place.
BITE features a number of theatre performances but also has a considerable amount of opera, ballet and performance art as well as "straight" drama. The Russians are likely to be as popular as ever with School for Fools (performed by Theatre Formalny in November) having already won a Fringe First at Edinburgh last year.
Circus and theatre will come together the following month, December, with Storm — by the appropriately named Generating Company. Also in December will be The Sound of Ocean, a show which draws on contemporary theatre techniques alongside the ancient Taiwanese art of drumming.
The highlight of the dance section of BITE 2002 will undoubtedly be a world premiere by Merce Cunningham, whose company celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Puppet fans will no doubt flock to see the Tblisi Marionett Theatre perform The Battle of Stalingrad in which the horrors of war are brilliantly re-created by marionettes made from everything from string to tin buckets.
—By Paul Webb Theatrenow