Ganesh Versus the Third Reich

Theatre, Drama
people on a train
Photograph: Supplied/Rising/Jeff Busby

Time Out says

This Back to Back Theatre production is a highlight of Arts Centre's Rising events, asking who can tell whose stories?

Back to Back Theatre has a long history of creating conversation-starting work that both champions creative people with disability and rails against power imbalances and limited views of what any one of us can do. The team is also insightful in examining their own actions too. Ganesh Versus the Third Reich is the perfect example of the group's emotionally intelligent work and the way it navigates the world.

First presented in 2011, it’s being restaged at Arts Centre Melbourne during winter festival Rising, and the show gets to the nub of who gets to tell who’s stories. An indie theatre company is putting on a play about the elephant-headed Hindu god of the title, who travels to Nazi Germany in order to reclaim the swastika symbol they misappropriated. But do they have the right to depict Ganesh at all? The actors begin to wrestle with the weighty responsibility of storytelling, ethics and cultural appropriation.

Lending the debate even greater weight is the dark shadow of Hitler’s attempt to wipe out people with disability, and some of this very community having to wear the Nazi uniform to perform this powerful play. Devised by Mark Deans, Simon Laherty, Scott Price, Luke Ryan and Brian Tilley, several of whom also perform, the work asks us all to take pause, listen and think, like all the very best theatre does.


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