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 Friday, 17 January, 2003, 16:31 GMT
RSC makes Midnight return to Barbican
Salman Rushdie in 1999
Rushdie's novel was voted 'Booker of Bookers' in 1993
The Royal Shakespeare Company is poised to perfom for audiences at its former London theatre base for the first time since abandoning the venue in May.

It is due to stage an adaptation of Salman Rushdie's award-winning novel Midnight's Children at the Barbican centre, its home for 20 years.

A preview night on Saturday marks the RSC's first production there since artistic director Adrian Noble pulled the company out to tour other London theatres.

Although the RSC is no longer resident at the Barbican, it says it is maintaining a "close relationship" as a visiting company.

The Barbican is very much looking forward to this visit by the RSC, the first in our new relationship

Graham Sheffield Barbican Artistic Director
For its part the Barbican said it was "delighted" to welcome back the RSC, which has its permanent home in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Artistic Director Graham Sheffield said: "The Barbican is very much looking forward to this visit by the RSC, the first in our new relationship."

Mr Noble, who announced he was resigning as the RSC's artistic director in March, was criticised for his decision to vacate the Barbican.

Some of the company's staff, actors and unions had opposed the move.

They had staged six months of Shakespeare at the venue every year, for which the Barbican paid them 1m.

Meanwhile, the Barbican - which was designed for the RSC - has continued to stage Shakespeare by putting on plays itself.

Work on adapting Midnight's Children began in July 2001, involving Rushdie, RSC director Tim Supple and dramaturg Simon Reade.

RSC logo
The RSC parted company with the Barbican in May
It stars a 20-strong cast of largely British Asian actors including Zubin Varla as Saleem, Sameena Zehra as Padma and Kulvinder Ghir as Aadam.

It plays for five weeks at the Barbican before transferring in March to US theatres in Michigan and New York.

It then begins a UK tour taking in Aberdeen, Nottingham, Birmingham, Bath, Leeds, Milton Keynes, Norwich and Salford Quays.

Rushdie's 1981 novel follows the fate of two children born on the stroke of midnight on 15 August 1947 - the date of India's independence from Britain.

It was awarded the Booker of Bookers prize in 1993 and confirmed Rushdie's reputation as a major writer.

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  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Razia Iqbal
"Salman Rushdie is no stranger to controversy"
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