Renowned international theatre company Cheek by Jowl celebrates its 25th anniversary this year with the commencement of its three-year partnership with the Barbican Centre, which opens next month with The Changeling followed by Twelfth Night in June (See News, 13 Jul 2005).

The Changeling - which runs at the Barbican Theatre, reconfigured as an intimate 400-seater (as opposed to 1160-seater), from 15 May to 10 June 2006 (previews from 11 May) – replaces the company’s planned new version of the 5,000-year-old Sumerian epic Gilgamesh. It visits the Barbican as part of an international tour, which includes four days at Warwick Arts Centre from 3 to 6 May 2006.

In Middleton and Rowley’s 1622 tragedy, Olivia Williams (Hotel in Amsterdam, Love’s Labour’s Lost on stage, The Sixth Sense, Rushmore on screen) plays desperate heiress Beatrice-Joanna who conspires with her deformed servant De Flores, played by Will Keen (The Coast of Utopia, Duchess of Malfi, Pericles), to murder an unwanted fiancé.

The cast of The Changeling also comprises: Tom Hiddleston, Jotham Annan, Jennifer Kidd, David Collings, Jim Hooper, Tobias Beer, Philip McGinley, Phil Cheadle, Laurence Spellman, Clifford Samuel and Jodie McNee.

Cheek by Jowl’s all-male Russian staging of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night - performed in Russian with English surtitles – runs at the Barbican from 13 to 17 June 2006, following other UK dates in Salford (23 to 27 May), Warwick (30 May to 5 June) and Oxford (6 to 10 June). Both productions are directed by Declan Donnellan and designed by Nick Ormerod.

Founded in 1981 by Donnellan and Ormerod, Cheek by Jowl has produced and toured, to a wide range of countries, more than 25 productions, many of them English premieres of European classics or original stagings of Shakespeare. In 1998, Donnellan and Ormerod disbanded the company in favour of freelance projects. 2004’s Othello marked the company’s first UK tour in six years.

Announced last summer (See News, 13 Jul 2005), the new residency will see the company present six productions – one in English, one in Russian each year - at the Barbican over three years. In 2007, the new work will be a production of Shakespeare’s Cymbeline while the visiting production, just opened in Moscow, will be Chekhov’s Three Sisters. Arts Council England (ACE) has awarded Cheek by Jowl £900,000 to deliver the outlined programming.

- by Terri Paddock