2006 Honorary Doctorate
Eugenio Barba is a theatre director and theorist. He was born in Italy in 1936 and emigrated to Norway in 1954. After university study in Italy and a period at the directors’ school in Warsaw (Poland), he joined the Laboratory Theatre led by Jerzy Grotowski in 1961. He spent three years with Grotowski and wrote his first book about him afterwards, which is widely recognised as an important research work on experimental theatre. In 1963, he traveled to India, and later published a long essay on Kathakali, a theatre form which had not previously been studied in the West. When he returned to Oslo in 1964, he started his own theatre. He gathered a group of young people and created the Odin Teatret. This group then moved to Holstebro in Denmark, where it is based now as a theatre laboratory, as well as a centre for theatre research and performance. In 1979, Barba founded the International School of Theatre Anthropology, an international network of actors, dancers and theorists interested in the research into the foundations of the performer’s technique.
Barba has directed 65 productions, regularly presented in Europe, Asia, North and South America. His work in Odin Teatret explored the possibilities of a socially aware, exploratory, actor-oriented drama, distinct from that of commercial theatre on the one hand and director-dominated, dramatist-oriented art theatre on the other. The performance of Odin Teatret and Barba’s lecture in Hong Kong in 2004 raised extreme interest among the theatre professionals and audiences.
Barba published a number of books and articles on actor research and theatre anthropology. Some of his most influential publications are translated into several different languages and are considered required reading materials in many theatre schools and departments. He is also on the advisory boards of scholarly journals.
Eugenio Barba has been awarded honorary doctorates from the University of Arhus, Ayacucho, Bologna, Havana, Warsaw and the ‘Reconnaissance de Mérite Scientifique’ from the University of Montreal. He is also recipient of Danish Academy Award, Mexican Theatre Critics’ Prize, Diego Fabbri Prize, Pirandello International Prize, and the Sonning Prize by the University of Copenhagen.