badac was formed in 1999 by…
Steve Lambert and Dan Robb. The objective of the company was to use intense research, new writing and the theatre philosophies of Antonin Artaud and Jerzy Grotowski in the creating of theatre work that would explore human rights issues and abuses.
The aim was to give an honest representation of the experiences suffered by survivors of various human rights abuses through theatre pieces that are immersive, unique, intense, visceral and brutal. We wanted to create work that explored what human rights abuses are and what they mean to the individual.
Over the last twenty years we have produced fifteen new pieces of theatre that have explored various subject matters, including, violence against women, political torture, religious persecution, the Holocaust, intimidation and murder of journalists, persecution of artists and wartime abuses against civilians.
We have toured extensively across the UK along with undertaking projects in Italy, Denmark, Poland, Palestine and Israel. The company has also participated in eight Edinburgh Festivals (we have the stories, scars and psychological/emotional damage to prove this…), most recently in 2014 with The Flood.
Our latest project was The Journey, a piece focusing on the experiences of refugees (toured the UK in 2018), and we are about to embark on the research and development of a new piece, Women (why don’t they leave), that will explore the devastation caused by domestic abuse, along with producing a short film project, A Sea of Trees, that will focus on the growing issue of male suicide.
As mentioned all of our work is created around the theatre concepts of Antonin Artaud and Jerzy Grotowski. With Artaud we focus specifically on his ‘Theatre and the Plague’ philosophy. It forms the opening chapter of his book The Theatre and its Double and we have spent twenty years trying to understand and achieve its aims. With Grotowski, we work with his ideas concerning the use of space and the artist/audience relationship that are explored in ‘Towards a Poor Theatre’, and as with Artaud, we have spent many years trying to understand, develop and create around those ideas.
Have to say that if you’re involved in the writing directing acting sharing of theatre (and other art forms) then the reading of these two fellas is an absolute must. Their insights into the creating and sharing of work are astonishing and could (like it does with us) have a massive influence your future creative processes. Is stunning stuff.
We approach all of our work from the violence of human rights abuses. This includes not only the physical violence visited upon victims/survivors of abuses but also the psychological and emotional violence. The company has always believed that to accurately portray human rights abuses it is vital that we explore and communicate the extremes of the situations/incidents. Having worked with survivors of various abuses (something we do on every project we undertake) it has become clear that what we ‘think’ we know about the experiences of victims/survivors often bares no relationship to the reality of their situations. Be it domestic abuse, torture or persecution the levels of physical, psychological and emotional violence endured is almost unimaginable, and as a company, we feel that we have a responsibility to communicate the visceral, brutal, intense reality of this abuse to audiences.
One further aspect of our work that we continue to develop is the use of space. We now very rarely create work that is based around the ‘traditional’ actor/audience relationship. We approach every project with a view to make the piece as immersive as possible. Again this is a process that has developed from studying Artaud, and specifically Grotowski, and it has influenced our creative process massively. The exploration of placing work in different spaces and then integrating audience members within those spaces has added a level of communication to the company’s work that we couldn’t have imagined possible when we started out. An example of Grotowski’s use of space can be found by having a look at his piece Akropolis.
As for the future.. who knows. Loads of stuff we want to explore/work on. Hopefully can continue to learn as artists, form collaborations and develop new ideas. One avenue we are embarking on is the use of different artistic mediums. So, for example, our first venture into the ‘short film’ arena with A Sea of Trees is an attempt to see if we can transfer some of the Badac ideas/skills into a new artistic direction. There is also a building desire to introduce photography and art into the development of our work. A (somewhat slow) realisation of how powerful a single image or piece of art can be has sparked a growing curiosity of how such work can be integrated into our future projects.
So. Lots to be going on with then. Here’s to another twenty years (really. another twenty years. really….)