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“Courageous, confronting, intelligent and magisterially considered theatre.” – The Age, 5 stars

Ganesh Versus the Third Reich is poignant, beautiful, disarming, 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.

Ganesh Versus the Third Reich is a work for the near future, seemingly impossible to make.

2009 Kit Denton Fellowship
2011 Melbourne Festival Age Critics Award
2012 Green Room Award Best Ensemble Performance (Alternative & Hybrid Performance category)
2012 Green Room Award Best Direction (Theatre category)
2012 Green Room Award Best Production (Theatre category)
2012 Helpmann Award for Best Play

Patrons are advised that the performance of Ganesh Versus the Third Reich contains coarse language, adult themes and portrayal of Lord Ganesh which some may find troubling. The production is a work of fiction and does not purport to be an accurate representation of historical fact or scripture.

GANESH VERSUS THE THIRD REICH: Promo from Back to Back Theatre on Vimeo.

Director Bruce Gladwin
Devisors Mark Deans, Marcia Ferguson, Bruce Gladwin, Nicki Holland, Simon Laherty, Sarah Mainwaring, Scott Price, Kate Sulan, Brian Tilley & David Woods
Lighting Design Andrew Livingston, bluebottle
Design Construction Mark Cuthbertson
Design & Animation Rhian Hinkley
Composer Johann Johannsson
Costume Design Shio Otani


“a remarkable production that never lets you settle into passive acceptance of anything it does. It’s a vital, senses-sharpening tonic for theatergoers who feel they’ve seen it all.” For the full review go to The New York Times

– Ben Brantley, The New York Times - 10 January 2013

“Back to Back have never had any truck with "special” treatment: their work has a harsh honesty that makes it impossible to patronise. But they also specialise in moments of breath-taking beauty that assert the sheer power of their skills. There are images I won’t forget: the impossible poignancy and strangeness, for example, of Ganesh, dressed in a business suit, standing before Hitler, who is played by Simon in a ridiculous knitted Hitler costume. Or an evocation of Indra’s net, when a back curtain of stars was lifted to reveal a blazing light, like a sunrise. I’ve never seen anything like this show, because only Back to Back could make it. They are, simply, our most important independent theatre company.“ For the full review go to theatrenotes

– Alison Croggon, Theatrenotes - 7 October 2011

“Courageous, confronting, intelligent and magisterially considered theatre. … the towering achievement here is to stimulate discussion around issues of cultural appropriation, the rights and responsibilities of those who imagine and speak for others.” For the full review go to Behind the Critical Curtain

– Cameron Woodhead, The Age, 1 October 2011

“Back to Back Theatre, I salute you. Theatre people, I implore you to not let an opportunity like this slip past. A truly staggering piece of theatre. Five stars.” For the full review go to

– - 1 October 2011

Project Funders & Partners

Developed with support from the Australia Council for the Arts, Arts Victoria, Melbourne Festival, Malthouse Theatre, City of Melbourne, Sidney Myer Fund, Keir Foundation, 2009 Kit Denton Fellowship, the National Theatre Studio (London), Geelong Performing Arts Centre and Goethe-Institut.