The International Ibsen Award, one of the world’s most prestigious theatre awards, has been announced for 2022.
Awarded every two years by a committee of theatre professionals, the honour was announced at a press conference at the National Theatre in Oslo on 20 March 2022 – Henrik Ibsen’s birthday.
Back to Back Theatre, an Australian theatre company based in Geelong, Victoria, are the winners of the 2022 prize. They will collect their award at a ceremony at the Nationaltheatret in Oslo on 18 September 2022, performing the plays Ganesh versus the third reich and The Shadow Whose Prey the Hunter Becomes.
The prize is one of the largest arts awards in the world, at 2.5 million Norwegian Krone, which is around £217,000.
Back to Back features a neurodiverse ensemble of actors and has been widely recognised as an Australian theatre company of national and international significance. The company is driven by an ensemble of actors who are perceived as neuro diverse and is considered one of Australia’s most important cultural exporters.
From 2009 to 2022, the company has performed 72 national and 89 international seasons of its work, including the Edinburgh International Festival, London’s V&A Museum and the Barbican, Vienna Festival, Holland Festival and Theater der Welt, the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, the Public Theater in New York, Festival Tokyo, West Kowloon Cultural District Authority in Hong Kong, and Buenos Aires International Festival.
In addition to the Ibsen Award, they have received 21 national and international awards including a Helpmann Award for Best Australian Work, an Edinburgh International Festival Herald Angel Critics’ Award, two Age Critics’ Awards, a New York Bessie and the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Group Award for their long-standing contribution to the development of Australian theatre.
The International Ibsen Award was established by the Norwegian government in 2008 to recognise excellence in world theatre, using the name of the famous Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen.
Anette Trettebergstuen, minister of culture and equality in Norway, told the international press that: “It’s thrilling to observe the development of the International Ibsen Award during its relatively short life span. In just a few years, the award has grown to be one of the most prominent theatre prizes in the world, which says a lot about Ibsen´s significance both internationally and in Norway.”
Bruce Gladwin, artistic director and co-chief executive of Back to Back, said: “Many amazing artists have collaborated with the Back to Back Ensemble over the last 30 years. The presentation of the International Ibsen Award honours not only the ensemble’s talent and unique insight as social commentators but the richness and depth of Australian contemporary theatre.”
The 2016 prize was awarded to the UK’s Forced Entertainment, an experimental theatre company based in Sheffield, founded by Tim Etchells.
Previous Ibsen Award winners
- 2008 Peter Brook
- 2009 Ariane Mnouchkine
- 2010 Jon Fosse
- 2012 Heiner Goebbels
- 2014 Peter Handke
- 2016 Forced Entertainment
- 2018 Christoph Marthaler
- 2020 Taylor Mac