Ganesh vs. The Third Reich with Back to Back Theatre

By Litmus Media

In our podcast episode ‘Back to Back Theatre’, comedian John Safran is in conversation with Back to Back theatre’s Scott Price and Bruce Gladwin to explore the ensemble’s new play ‘Ganesh vs. The Third Reich’ showing at RISING 2021. Dr Vikrant Kishore provides commentary throughout the interview, outlining Ganesh’s origins in Hinduism and the Hindu Nationalist backlash against the play.

Gladwin and his cast never shied away from verbalising the things liberal sensibilities deem morally wrong…. The beauty of the images and the intensity of the arguments give Ganesh vs The Third Reich its remarkable strength.” - The Guardian

Performing at RISING 2021, acclaimed Geelong theatre company Back-to-Back have devised a play within a play in which Ganesh (the Hindu god of beginnings) travels to Nazi Germany to reclaim this symbol. One of the Swastika’s original meanings was “conductive to well-being”, but it is now more commonly known for the malicious symbolism used by The Third Reich in WWII.

Back to Back Theatre productions are performed and conceived by neurodiverse performers and performers living with disability. Within the play, we witness a theatre group unravel cultural appropriation under complex layers and explore multiple ethical dilemmas. These include a non-disabled director who edges into tyranny, the representation of Hindu deities by non-Hindu creators, and the importance of autonomy for neurodiverse actors and those living with disability.

In this podcast, Jewish comedian and author John Safran interrogates the political dynamics of the play with performer Scott Price and the director Bruce Gladwin. Price and Gladwin offer their own insights into writing, creating and performing the play, while academic and film-maker Dr. Vikrant Kishore provides greater context around religious appropriation, as well as the play’s backlash from Hindu nationalists.

Ganesh vs. The Third Reich will be playing in Melbourne’s Arts Centre from the 4th of June through to the 6th.

You can listen to our RISING 2021 podcast episode ‘Back to Back Theatre’ via Spotify, Apple or wherever you listen to podcasts.