Barber Shop Chronicles returns to London

Posted on: 17th January 2019

As the overwhelmingly successful North American tour of Inua Ellams’ much celebrated play Barber Shop Chronicles draws to a close, it is today announced that the production will return to London, two years after opening at the National Theatre. Back by popular demand, the production, spanning six cities over the course of one day, will be remounted specifically for the Roundhouse’s distinctive 360° performance space.

Newsroom, political platform, local hot-spot, confession box, preacher-pulpit and football stadium – for generations, African men have gathered in barber shops to discuss the world.

These are places where the banter can be barbed and the truth is always telling.

Directed by Bijan Sheibani and designed by Rae Smith, Barber Shop Chronicles is a heart-warming, hilarious and insightful new play, that leaps from barber shop in Peckham to Johannesburg, Harare, Kampala, Lagos, and Accra over the course of a single day.

Kate McGrath, Director of Fuel, and Inua Ellams met in 2008, after Kate saw what became Inua’s first theatre show, The 14th Tale, at Battersea Arts Centre. Fuel helped Inua develop his debut play and produced it, premiering it at the Edinburgh Festival, winning a Fringe First, touring it in the UK and internationally and presenting it at the National Theatre. Since that first meeting, Fuel has worked closely with Inua, producing Untitled, Knight Watch, Long Song Goodbye, Black T-shirt Collection, The Spalding Suite, An Evening with an Immigrant, and now Barber Shop Chronicles together with the National Theatre and Leeds Playhouse. Fuel is also currently co-producing Inua’s Half-God of Rainfall with Kiln Theatre in association with Birmingham Rep, which will open in April 2019, and Inua’s Three Sisters with the National Theatre, which will open in autumn 2019.

Kate McGrath said: “We are hugely proud of this joyous and soulful production. Having now played 195 performances across the globe, it is incredible to see audiences’ continually growing appetite for Inua’s important and life-affirming play. Barber Shop Chronicles’ two runs at the National Theatre in 2017 saw Fuel and the NT build young and diverse audiences, giving the auditorium a palpable buzz. We’re thrilled to be moving to the Roundhouse, another trailblazing London venue, and can’t wait to welcome more audiences to experience this special production.”

 Marcus Davey, Chief Executive & Artistic Director, Roundhouse, said: “Barber Shop Chronicles comes to the Roundhouse this summer, and back to London, after captivating audiences around the world. It’s such a joyous piece of theatre that

brings to the stage a wonderfully rich cast of characters; thoughtful, insightful and laugh-out-loud funny too. It’s an added pleasure to be able to welcome back its writer Inua Ellams, who the Roundhouse has also had a long relationship with. Not only is our in-the-round performance space perfect for this show, the Roundhouse is a natural home for diverse and underrepresented artists and audiences so it couldn’t be a better fit.”

Full cast and further details will be announced in due course.

The production is directed by Olivier Award-winning Bijan Sheibani, designed by Rae Smith (War Horse) with lighting design by Jack Knowles, movement direction by Aline David and sound design by Gareth Fry.

Co-commissioned by Fuel and the National Theatre. Development funded by Arts Council England with the support of Fuel, National Theatre, Leeds Playhouse, The Binks Trust, British Council ZA, Òran Mór and A Play, a Pie and a Pint.

Barber Shop Chronicles at the Roundhouse is supported by American Express, the National Theatre’s preferred Card Partner.