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When the Barbican Centre first opened in 1982, one of its first resident companies was the Royal Shakespeare Company, who gave up their beloved West End addresses at the Aldwych and Donmar Warehouse to move there. The Barbican’s two theatre spaces that replaced them — the mainhouse Barbican Theatre and Pit respectively — were built specifically to and for the RSC’s specifications.
So it was hugely surprising, not to say foolhardy, when then artistic director Adrian Noble suddenly decided to withdraw the company from the building entirely in 2002, and become a company that peripatetically roamed all over the capital, hiring theatres as it needed them from the Noel Coward and Novello to the Roundhouse. It did particularly impressive work in reconfiguring the Roundhouse as a bespoke space for itself, but the company’s lack of a permanent presence in London damaged it greatly.