Brett Bailey’s Commissioned work
Internationally acclaimed theatre-maker Brett Bailey returned to London with two pieces that highlighted Africa’s past and present in relation to the rest of the world.In the Barbican Theatre, the UK premiere and Barbican co-commission of Macbeth was a radical reworking of Verdi’s opera set in an exploited, post-colonial African landscape. Bold visuals combined with a reconstructed score sung by a South African ensemble, Bailey set his Macbeth in a troubled, post-colonial Africa. Refugee performers, fleeing from conflict within Congo, encounter a trunk containing sheet music and gramophone recordings of Verdi’s Macbeth.
Inspired by the composer’s musical adaptation of the Shakespearean tragedy, they retoldl the story from their own perspective – a conflict-ravaged, exploited homeland where a warlord and his wife seize power of a province and militia fight to the death over mineral resources.
There were four performances (with no performance on Thursday 18 September). Following Macbeth, as part of our Beyond Barbican programme, Bailey moved off-site to Shoreditch Town Hall in East London where we presented Exhibit B, a human installation that replicates the ‘human zoos’ and ethnographic displays that showed Africans as objects of scientific curiosity (23 –27 September 2014).