Barbican Centre
Barbican Centre
© Rain Rabbit/Flickr

Happy birthday to the Barbican, which celebrates its 35th anniversary today. As part of the celebrations, the theatre is launching a digital collection of its cultural 'firsts' throughout the years. These include the world premiere of Les Miserables in 1985, Grayson Perry's first show at a public gallery (2002) and the UK premiere of Robert Wilson and Philip Glass' Einstein on the Beach (2012). The collection is accompanied by an essay from Cerys Matthews on the power of art. The full set of 35 Years of Firsts is available to view here.

As the theatre celebrates its birthday, a number of famous faces have paid tribute to the east London venue.


Benedict Cumberbatch

"The Barbican has been conjuring fantastic theatre experiences for 35 years, and my time on their stage was hugely enjoyable. Long may it continue."


Sadiq Khan

"The Barbican encompasses so much of what is great about London – it's bold, international, innovative and outward looking. Whether bringing the best of the world's arts to our doorstep or taking its programme to communities in its neighbouring boroughs, for the past 35 years the Barbican has played a huge role in ensuring London is a world leader in arts and culture."


Jude Law

"I first performed at the Barbican as a young actor 22 years ago and I am delighted to be returning in April for Barbican and Toneelgroep's Obsession. In the intervening years, the Barbican has carved out a truly special place in our theatre landscape, offering audiences something they can't get anywhere else."


Fiona Shaw

"The Barbican has raised the game for all who work in British theatre, welcoming and supporting British artists and inviting the best of the best from the international world. Its ambition and passion make it the most important institution for international theatre in the country. Happy 35th birthday Barbican… and many more great years ahead!"


Ivo van Hove

"The Barbican and Toneelgroep Amsterdam have proven to be a perfect match. Our relationship started in 2009 with the presentation of Roman Tragedies, a six-hour Shakespeare-marathon in… Dutch. We are proud to be part of their great international family of theatre companies from all over the world. It challenges us in the best way thinkable."


Zandra Rhodes

"Happy birthday Barbican! You have proved yourself to be a wonderful and vitally needed center on the east side of London. You have proved your worth with spectacular exhibitions that have pushed artistic boundaries that are fresh and relevant, starting with ADITI (the 1st festival of India), Jean Paul Gaultier and more recently The Vulgar."


Jarvis Cocker

"I am really looking forward to playing at the Barbican in the month of its 35th birthday. The show, Room 29, could only really happen at a place like the Barbican. To quote Laurie McMenemy: 'Barbican: it's great, man'!"


All photos © Dan Woller for WhatsOnStage except Jarvis Cocker (Flickr/Garry Knight).