With all the doom and gloom emanating from Geelong lately with the closures of Ford and Alcoa, it’s great to see one of that city’s success stories, Back to Back Theatre, showcase their award winning show GANESH VERSUS THE THIRD REICH at Carriageworks, Sydney.
Back to Back Theatre was founded in Geelong in 1987 to create theatre with people who are perceived to have a disability. It has gone on to become one of Australia’s leading creative voices, focusing on moral, philosophical and political questions about the value of individual lives.
GANESH VERSUS THE THIRD REICH is as much about the process the company goes through to make a show as the narrative dreamed up to make the show, so it’s a show within a show about the making of a show. A sort of triple treat.
The imagined show is about the elephant headed Hindu God, Ganesh, taking offence at Nazi Germany purloining a sacred symbol that the Nazi’s styled into the swastika.
He ventures to Germany in the last two years of WWII to swipe the Swastika back from National Socialist swine. Whilst there, he encounters Joseph Mengele, who is fascinated with the tusked head on the human torso, and Adolf Hitler, who seems not to see the elephant in the room.
Hindu myth and Holocaust truth create a catalyst for exploration of cultural imperatives, political correctness, and the power of imagination.
The use of plastic screens, projections and silhouette, and the performers speaking in German provide a sophistication of production values that delineate the “show” from the starkly fluorescent lit and naïve playing in the “rehearsal room.”
Here, the politics of playmaking are on show, where cracks in collaboration can widen into chasms of catastrophic artistic difference with the director developing traits of dictatorship.
Prickly questions about the theatre are raised. Is a script merely a springboard for a director to dive from and create a splash? And do audiences attending a performance from a company like Back to Back expect a freak show?
Funny, energetic, provocative and poignant, GANESH VERSUS THE THIRD REICH is a hundred minute journey into the potential of fearless imagining.
GANESH VERSUS THE THIRD REICH is only running at Carriageworks until this Saturday 15th March.