Nicki Holland and Rita Halabarec of Back to Back Theatre in Food Court. Photo by Jeff Busby.
Rita Halabarec and Nicki Holland of Back to Back Theatre’s Food Court. Photo by Jeff Busby.
Back to Back Theatre's Food Court with the Necks, presented at FringeArts' 2012 festival. Photo by Jeff Busby.
Back to Back Theatre’s Food Court with the Necks, presented at FringeArts’ 2012 festival. Photo by Jeff Busby.
FringeArts presented the U.S. premiere and the only American showing of Food Court, a production by Back to Back Theatre of Geelong, Australia. Back to Back has a history of more than two decades of creating works by and for an ensemble of actors perceived to have intellectual disabilities such as Down syndrome and autism. Staged with digital projections that both create shadowy worlds and display actors' lines, Food Court is a meditation on power and torment that examines prejudices surrounding difference in our society. The piece follows one woman as she is verbally tormented, humiliated, and physically assaulted by others. Actors in the company contributed to the creation of the script through improvisations based on their own experiences. An original score performed live by Australian experimental jazz band The Necks builds with the onstage action. "As a company we create theater to limit our own sense of safety, responsibility and respectability," Back to Back writes on its website. Artistic Director Bruce Gladwin and Back to Back cast members participated in post-show community discussions about their process as a group of performers with disabilities. Back to Back also conducted a two-hour workshop with 15 members of the Philadelphia theater community, which focused on Back to Back's unique method for creating work. Click here to see a five-minute trailer of Food Court.