A group photo of five serious people with colourful jackets that look into the camera

Back to Back Theatre

Back to Back Theatre, the Australian theatre company featuring a neurodiverse ensemble of actors, has been awarded the International Ibsen Award 2022. 

Based in the Victorian regional centre of Geelong, Back to Back Theatre is widely recognised as an Australian theatre company of national and international significance. The company is driven by an ensemble of actors who are perceived as neuro diverse and is considered one of Australia’s most important cultural exporters.

Back to Back Theatre pursues a model of equality that values diversity. That includes an embrace of neuro-diversity, believing there are creative, philosophical and economic advantages in embracing diversity of intellect among its artists. Every individual has particular gifts to share with the world; if these gifts are not seen and nurtured by others, the whole of society will suffer as a result.

Back to Back Theatre creates theatre to dissect the unspoken imaginings of society. The company’s work provides an analysis of the dynamics that unify and separate the audience, aiming to reveal the audience to themselves. Their work is simple, rich, complex, accessible, original, challenging, surprising, strange, beguiling and intelligent.

The company seeks to foster an environment that supports instinct, where the worries of resources, viability, competition, and social promotion are discounted by curiosity and a faith in the artists’ unmediated voice.

Theatre is a collective medium: the company nurtures an ensemble of actors and actively engages and supports a diverse community of collaborators. It is the company’s belief that a truly visionary company is one that is open to working with an artistic pallet greater than its own physical and creative constitution. The challenge lies in collectively embracing the unknown, moving forward with a mutual sense of intuition.

A new Back to Back Theatre work is an externalisation of the artists’ imagination. Their inner world becomes shareable and for the audience, transformative. Each new Back to Back Theatre production is a reminder to the audience that they can affect change and make the world anew.

From 2009 to 2022, the company has undertaken 72 national and 89 international seasons of its work. This includes presentations and screenings at the world’s pre-eminent contemporary arts festivals and venues such as the Edinburgh International Festival, London’s V&A Museum and the Barbican, Vienna Festival, Holland Festival and Theater der Welt, the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, the Public Theater in New York, Festival Tokyo, West Kowloon Cultural District Authority in Hong Kong, and Buenos Aires International Festival.

Back to Back Theatre has received 21 national and international awards including a Helpmann Award for Best Australian Work, an Edinburgh International Festival Herald Angel Critics’ Award, two Age Critics’ Awards, a New York Bessie and the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Group Award for their long-standing contribution to the development of Australian theatre.

The International Ibsen Award ceremony took place at Nationaltheatret in Oslo September 18th. Back to Back performed the plays Ganesh versus the third reich and The Shadow Whose Prey the Hunter Becomes during their stay in Norway.