The Barbican Centre and Dublin’s Gate Theatre will team up next year to celebrate the 100th birthday (on 13 April 2006) of playwright Samuel Beckett (pictured) with a six-week programme of performances, films, talks, visual arts and music. The Beckett Centenary Festival will run simultaneously in London and Dublin from 21 March to 6 May 2006.

The festival’s theatre highlights at the Barbican will include a new production of Endgame and John Hurt’s reprisal of his performance in Beckett monologue Krapp’s Last Tape, while director Walter Asmus will restage his Gate production of Waiting for Godot.

The last, which runs from 4 to 15 April 2006, has caused controversy this year (See News, 16 Aug 2005). With the London performance rights held by the Barbican and the Gate, a planned transfer of a 50th anniversary production of Waiting for Godot to the West End’s Arts Theatre was blocked this summer. That production was directed by Sir Peter Hall, who directed the English-language world premiere in 1955 when he was the Arts’ 25-year-old artistic director. Hall publicly attacked both the Gate and the Barbican for their “act of supreme ungenerosity” in blocking the transfer, adding that “Beckett would have been appalled".

At the Barbican, audiences will also be able to see double-bills of three of Beckett’s shorter plays: Rockaby and Ohio Impromptu, Footfalls and Come and Go, and Play and Catastrophe.

Born in Dublin, from 1932, Beckett lived mostly in France and wrote most of his works in French. His other plays include Happy Days, Not I and Ill Seen Ill Said. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969 and died in 1989.

Other highlights in the Barbican’s BITE (Barbican International Theatre Event) programme from January to July 2006, announced today, include: director Peter Brook’s production of The Grand Inquisitor, based on a chapter from Dostoevsky’s novel The Brothers Karamazov; the inaugural year of Cheek by Jowl’s residency with productions of The Changeling and Twelfth Night; the return of Robert Lepage with The Andersen Project, a one-man show inspired by fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen; and Tropicalia, a festival celebrating the artistic and cultural movement in 1960s Brazil.

- by Terri Paddock