Eugenio Barba gathered a group of young people who had not passed their admission test to Oslo’s State Theatre School, and created the Odin Teatret on 1 October 1964. The group trained and rehearsed in an air raid shelter. Their first production, Ornitofilene, by the Norwegian author Jens Bjørneboe, was performed in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark. They were subsequently invited by the Danish municipality of Holstebro, a small town in the Northwest, to create a theatre laboratory there. They were offered an old farm and a small sum of money to set them on their feet. Since then Barba and his colleagues have made Holstebro the base for the Odin Teatret.
During the past forty two years Eugenio Barba has directed 65 productions with Odin Teatret and the Theatrum Mundi Ensemble, some of which have required up to two years of preparation. Among the best known are Ferai (1969), Min Fars Hus (My Father’s House) (1972), Brecht’s Ashes (1980), The Gospel According to Oxyrhincus (1985), Talabot (1988), Itsi Bitsi (1991), Kaosmos (1993) and Mythos (1998). Some of the more recent productions are Salt (2002), Great Cities under the Moon (2003), Andersen’s Dream (2005), Ur-Hamlet (2006) and Don Giovanni all’Inferno (2006) in collaboration with Ensemble Midtvest.
Since 1974, Eugenio Barba and Odin Teatret have devised their own way of being present in a social context through the practice of theatre “barter”, an exchange through performance with a community.
In 1979 Eugenio Barba founded the International School of Theatre Anthropology (ISTA). He is on the advisory boards of scholarly journals such as The Drama Review, Performance Research, New Theatre Quarterly, Teatro e Storia and Teatrología. Among his most recent publications, translated into several different languages, are The Paper Canoe (Routledge), Theatre: Solitude, Craft, Revolt (Black Mountain Press), Land of Ashes and Diamonds. My Apprenticeship in Poland, followed by 26 letters from Jerzy Grotowski to Eugenio Barba (Black Mountain Press) and, in collaboration with Nicola Savarese, The Secret Art of the Performer and the revised an updated version: A Dictionary of Theatre Anthropology (Centre for Performance Research/ Routledge).
Eugenio Barba has been awarded honorary doctorates from the universities of Århus, Ayacucho, Bologna, Havana, Warsaw, University of Plymouth (UK) and the “Reconnaissance de Mérite scientifique” from the Université de Montréal.
He is also a recipient of the Danish Academy Award, Mexican Theatre Critics’ prize, Diego Fabbri prize, Pirandello International prize, the Sonning Prize of the University of Copenhagen and the Academy of Performing Arts (Hong Kong).