In a remarkable retrospective, Back to Back Theatre presents three of its major world-renowned performances – Food Court, Ganesh Versus the Third Reich ansmall metal objects – at this year’s inaugural RISING festival, offering audiences a unique opportunity to plunge into the works of one of the world’s most acclaimed companies.

Inspired by its own ensemble of actors with intellectual disabilities, Back to Back Theatre is a leading voice in contemporary world theatre and one of Australia’s most important cultural exporters. Each of these multi-award -winning works first premiered at the Melbourne International Arts Festival before touring the globe, where they delighted audiences and critics, and inspired audiences to think in new ways about the world we live in. Now the shows return to Melbourne, presented together for the first time ever, for RISING.

small metal objects premiered at the Melbourne International Arts Festival in 2005 and has toured to more than 35 cities across the world. It was awarded New York’s Bessie Award and the Victorian Green Room Award for best theatre production.

An ingenious theatrical gem, small metal objects unfolds amid the pedestrian traffic against the backdrop of the city. On a raised seating bank with individual sets of headphones, the audience is wired into an intensely personal drama that is being played out somewhere in the crowd. Gary and Steve are the kind of men who normally escape notice. But here they play an inadvertent but pivotal role in the night of two ambitious executives who they’ve arranged to meet for a transaction. As the intimacy of their situation develops, small metal objects becomes a sly and luminous depiction of everyday issues most take for granted.

Food Court premiered at the Melbourne International Arts Festival in 2008 and has since been performed at the Barbican, Sydney Opera House, Berlin, Brussels and Philadelphia.

Part concert, part theatre show, Food Court combines the remarkable vision of Back to Back Theatre with the music of The Necks, who improvise a driving score for each performance. Set in the lush minimalism of an illuminated white void, the story of one woman’s humiliation is played out in a psychological space constructed from light and sound. Luminously fragile, Food Court is a near death experience in a suburban wonderland where a small fatality of dignity takes place between The Asian Hut and The Juice Bar.

Ganesh Versus the Third Reich premiered in 2011 at the Melbourne International Arts Festival. Its many awards include the Edinburgh International Festival Herald Angel Critics Award, the Helpmann Award for Best Play, three Green Room Awards and the Melbourne Festival Age Critics Award. It has toured to more than 34 cities.

Ganesh Versus the Third Reich is poignant, beautiful, disarming play full of vulnerability and sly transparency. The story begins with the elephant-headed god Ganesh travelling through Nazi Germany to reclaim the Swastika, an ancient Hindu symbol. As this intrepid hero embarks on his journey a second narrative is revealed: the actors themselves begin to feel the weighty responsibility of storytellers and question the ethics of cultural appropriation.

Cleverly interwoven in the play’s design is the story of a young man inspired to create a play about Ganesh, god of overcoming obstacles. He is an everyman who must find the strength to overcome the difficulties in his own life, and defend his play and his collaborators against an overbearing colleague. The show is made before our very eyes and takes on its own life. It invites us to examine who has the right to tell a story and who has the right to be heard. It explores our complicity in creating and dismantling the world, human possibility and hope.

May 26 – June 6

Bookings: Ganesh Versus the Third Reich: https://rising.melbourne/festival-program/ganesh-versus-the-third-reich
Food Court: https://rising.melbourne/festival-program/food-court
small metal objects: https://rising.melbourne/festival-program/small-metal-objects

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