The Barbican Arts Centre
The Barbican, the largest Arts Centre in Europe, is set in the middle of a housing development with the same name. The goal with the centre was to give the housing development a uniqueness that no other housing could provide. The result was an arts centre now more famous than the housing development itself.
Since it was built after the housing, the centre did not have much ground to build upon. Thus, they went down. The Barbican Arts Centre is, only large vertically. The lowest point of the centre, a theatre known as The Pit, got its name because when excavating for construction, a Plague Pit was found there from the Middle Ages.
Inside the centre, there are several theatres, concert halls, cinemas, and an art gallery as well as three restaurants, a library, and a conservatory. The conservatory was actually put in place to hide the Fly Tower of the Barbican Hall theatre, it is now a location for weddings and other events.
When the centre was being planned, the Royal Shakespeare Company had a hand in the planning as it would be their space in London. The company, though the theatre spaces were planned for them, moved out in 2002. The rehearsal space was down in The Pit and the company did not like the fact that they would spend whole days without seeing sunlight. Thus, they went back to their home in Stratford. They no longer have a set location to perform in London.
Wanting to be able to see all of Barbican, both inside and out, we opted for a backstage tour called “Hidden Barbican” which walked us through not only the public areas of the facility but took us into the backstage area which included the fly tower of Barbican Hall, the wings of that theatre, and even onto the stage! We wandered through The Pit, through the Green Room, saw some of the cinemas, and even got to peek into one of the orchestra practice rooms. Walking into the Barbican was like coming home for me. Having been out of a theatre for so long was starting to feel the strain. This allowed me both to, explore a new facility, and compare the differences between what I am used to at Dominican, and my dance studio, and what else is out there in the theatre world. Besides my own amusement with the automatic fly tower (as opposed to having to manually pull sets and curtains onstage from up above), I found that it was pretty similar to what Dominican has , except much larger and without a scene shop.
At the end of our tour, our guide asked if we had any questions. Immediately, I asked when I would be allowed to move in. While our guide laughed and probably thought I was only flattering him, it is safe to say that I have found a place that I would love to visit much more often. In fact, while there, I heard that the Merce Cunningham Dance Company was performing. Soon, I will be back at the centre to see them perform on that same stage.