Singleton, Brian (2021):
"ANU Productions and the Performance of Otherness." Theater. Special issue of Orbis Litterarum 76.6: 301-310.
Journal Article

Taking my lead from Ric Knowles’s analysis of interculturalism 'from below’ (Knowles, 2017, 2), the focus of this essay is on the representation of ‘otherness’ in three productions of Ireland’s multi‐award‐winning company ANU Productions: their 2014 play Vardo about ‘travellers’ in an inner‐city community; their 2016 play Sunder, in which contemporary Chinese characters were placed in a centenary production about Ireland’s failed revolution; and in their 2019 production, Faultline, where a previously unknown Black British singer emerges from the Irish Queer Archive. ANU Productions’ intercultural strategy contests monocultural constructions of Ireland, by throwing spectators, without exposition, into often historical scenes featuring characters from other worlds, nations, races and ethnicities. These characters, by their very visual and aural presence in performances ostensibly of monocultural historical experiences, refract and at times challenge essentialist tendencies to write histories of nation. ANU’s focus has always been on ‘others’, the bystanders to history, on those absent from historical constructions. But in their folding of the present into the performed past, a folding the company calls ‘NOW THEN NOW’, new ‘others’ emerge as bystanders, inviting us to stand by them as well.