'Distinctly original, universally resonant and plenty surreal'
Time Out
'Provocative and emotionally intelligent'
The Age
'Heart-warming and poignant'
Theatre Matters
'Disturbingly real'
'Back to Back seamlessly, ruthlessly, challenge and unsettle the ways audiences read the veracity—or virtuosity—of the performers'
The Conversation
'Pure, open-hearted, complex and breathtaking'
Sydney Morning Herald (For Back to Back Theatre's 'Small Metal Objects')
'A vital sense-sharpening tonic for theatregoers who feel they’ve seen it all'
New York Times (for Back to Back Theatre's 'Ganesh Versus the Third Reich')

They’re only saying what you’ve already been thinking.


MULTIPLE BAD THINGS is theatre. It is not real. But in a world where self-righteously indignant voices so often drown out the most disenfranchised and vulnerable, this theatre sometimes feels real.

At a time like this, in a placeless warehouse at the end of the world, three employees approach a possibly futile task. Struggling to work together, they grapple with questions of inclusion and equity. They are forced to test the limits of their bodies, their cooperation, and their capacity to care. Civility slips, bad behaviour escalates, and reality distorts.


Back to Back Theatre is a global leader for challenging the assumptions of what is possible on the stage, and in ourselves. For over 30 years, their ensemble of performers has created epic and arresting theatre that weaves together the personal, political, and cosmic.

Known for groundbreaking productions that tour the world—Ganesh Versus The Third Reich, Small Metal ObjectsMULTIPLE BAD THINGS is their latest. 


In the making of this new work, Back to Back Theatre invites new voices into the devising room. Zoë Barry’s score is assembled from collected field recordings of bad things. Anna Cordingley’s design demands the actors’ physical participation to reach its manifestation. 






INGRID VOORENDT: What have we paid attention to across the process of making this work?

TAMARA SEARLE: We’ve paid attention to creating performance tasks and dramaturgy from the perspectives of this particular group of makers and actors. We’ve paid attention to specific dramatic threads in relation to these actors: empathy, borders, territory, extinction, identity politics.


Can you speak about boundaries?


INGRID VOORENDT: Our perspectives are shaped by our boundaries. We see the world from our place in it. We secure our boundaries by stating our place and our perspective over and over again, cementing our identities and, perhaps, trapping ourselves inside them. To make work together, collaboratively, we have to be prepared to shift our boundaries, to open our borders to other ways of thinking, seeing, experiencing, voicing. We have to recognise the limitations of a singular perspective. We have to leave the safety of the familiar. Different perspectives create different maps. Dramaturgy is a kind of cartography of performance.


Can you speak about the relationship between control and chaos in the process?


TAMARA SEARLE: The work is practicing letting go of control continually, ceding control to what is emergent. Inviting chaos, and waiting as long as possible to shape it. There is control in the craft, and chaos in the instincts. There is control in technique, and chaos in an ensemble devising. There is control in trust. And there is chaos in these acts of trust as well – we don’t have complete control.


Can a mainstage performance making process be responsive, organic and relational, like a workshop?


INGRID VOORENDT: Workshops are about experiments and conversations and play. There’s space for tangential thought and for mess. Maybe it’s about the degree of openness and for how long this openness is maintained. Our work is grounded in community practice, meaning relationships come first. We are always balancing care with ambition.


Can you speak about one of our visual references?


TAMARA SEARLE: In Arthur Boyd’s Australian Scapegoat, a light from a setting pink sun splatters a sky and a landscape. A black goat transmogrifies its fourth leg into a human leg. This human form rises in in a trenchcoat and blue gumboot above the goat. The violent pink was an initial attraction, but this chimeric figure became a motif for the moral ambiguity between abuser and victim in the culture wars.

In our process we’ve tried to turn toward suffering, rather than away from it. We’ve attempted to imagine ourselves into the faultlines of human conflict, and to improvise from this place.


INGRID VOORENDT: Is it alright to live our small lives? Or is it necessary for us to take on the politics of the world, especially at this time? 


TAMARA SEARLE: We are making theatre because we believe that together we can imagine new ways to be, to care, and to change.


ESSAY by helena grehan

ESSAY by andy jackson


Key image: Jeff Busby

Video: Robert D'Ottavi

Back to Back Theatre

Malthouse Theatre presents Back to Back Theatre’s MULTIPLE BAD THINGS. MULTIPLE BAD THINGS has been co-commissioned by Kunstenfestivaldesarts (Brussels), The Keir Foundation, The Anthony Costa Foundation, Geelong Arts Centre and Back to Back Theatre’s New Work Donor Circle, with development support from Festival d’Automne (Paris), Une Parkinson Foundation, Sidney Myer Fund and Give Where You Live.

This presentation has been supported by the City of Melbourne Arts Grants, and by the Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund–an Australian Government initiative.

Back to Back Theatre is supported by the Australian Government through Creative Australia, its principal arts investment and advisory body, the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria, and the City of Greater Geelong.


Bron Batten, Breanna Deleo, Natasha Jynel, Simon Laherty, Sarah Mainwaring, Ben Oakes, Scott Price, Tamara Searle, Ingrid Voorendt


Tamara Searle, Ingrid Voorendt


Bron Batten, Simon Laherty, Sarah Mainwaring, Scott Price


Zoë Barry


Anna Cordingley


Richard Vabre


Rhian Hinkley


Rachel Griffiths


Melissa Reeves


Michael Chan, Mark Deans, Alana Hoggart, Francesca Neri, Tamika Simpson


Kinetic Sets


Reveal Productions


Patrick Jones


Alana Hoggart


Jordi Edwards


Peter Monks

Event & ticketing details

Performance Times

7.30pm, Wed 29 May
6.30pm, Tue — Wed
7.30pm, Thu — Sat
2pm, Sat 8 Jun
5pm, Sundays
6.30pm, Tue 4 Jun


60 minutes

Content notes

This show contains coarse language, adult themes, sexual references, and partial nudity.

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