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Arts to film – questioning assumptions through diversity on screen

Dec 17, 2019

ODDLANDS, a film by Back to Back Theatre & Matchbox Pictures. Credit: Tao Weis

What began as a disability workshop in the late 80s has become one of our most successful and ground breaking theatre companies. An ensemble of actors identifying as having intellectual disabilities, Geelong-based Back to Back Theatre have made a body of work that questions the assumptions of what is possible in theatre, but also the assumptions we hold about ourselves and others. The company has toured the world – 83 cities in 27 countries – winning a plethora of awards along the way.

Alongside their international ambitions which have been supported by the Australia Council’s grants and strategic work, Back to Back Theatre have long aspired to expand their reach through digital platforms. 

Participation in the 2016 HIVE LAB (an initiative of the Adelaide Film Festival, ABC TV, Australia Council and Screen Australia) resulted in their first major foray into film: the singular comedic and dystopic Oddlands which premiered at the Adelaide Film Festival in 2017 where it received the Audience Award for Best Short. It was broadcast on the ABC in March 2019.

Australia Council support for Back to Back Theatre as a Four Year Funded Organisation;(2017–20) and strategic support through the HIVE FUND has enabled the company to unlock the potential for a whole strand of new work, which could have long-term multiplier effects for the company, for writers and actors with disabilities, and for the audiences who witness this diversity on screen. The company now have phase one development investment from ABC Drama to explore a six part Oddlands series with the potential to reach an estimated worldwide audience of three million people.