The story begins with the elephant-headed god Ganesh traveling 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.This fantastical story was conceived by Back to Back Theatre, who were founded in Geelong, Australia in 1987. As people with disabilities, the actors would not have survived the Nazi regime. 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 actors, who speak German in parts of the play, and who were integral in its development; make jokes about the Nazis and argue over how to divide the play's roles "You get to play Hitler. I want to play a Jew". Ganesh Versus the Third Reich is poignant, heart warming, beautiful, disarming, full of vulnerability and sly transparency. It is the 'making of' a Holocaust fairytale, and a panopticon of unsettling questions about power. Ganesh Versus the Third Reich is made before our very eyes and takes on its own life. It explores our complicity in creating and dismantling the world, human possibility and hope.
Production: Back to Back Theatre. With the support of: 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).