By Leyli Gafarova
On stage are a man and a woman. She is bare-breasted. Attracted by what it looks like, with overwhelming passion they kiss, they hug, they cling on each other — at times they seem to wrestle. When “Mimoda” was staged for the first time two years ago, it hit Azerbaijan’s traditional theatre scene like a rock. Even in the capital of Baku, performing half-naked is a taboo, which had never been challenged before.
Pushing the boundaries and calling for a revolution in the arts in the South Caucasus was the clear goal that actor and theatre director Elmin Badalov had in mind, when in 2013, he pulled a few brave artists together and founded the ODA Theatre. Since then the group — renamed ADO Theatre-Collective in 2015 — has become a unique space for contemporary and experimental theatre in the country. ADO’s performances are mostly without a fixed script and it uses no words, breaking the strict patterns of traditional theatre.
It is has proved to be far from easy. ADO challenges Azerbaijani society’s traditional values and it brings on stage sensitive issues like sexuality, freedom and abuse of power, while constant financial problems have challenged its very existence.
“ADO is chaos,” founding director Badalov explains. This film goes behind the scenes of a group of actors who break the rules by virtue of getting on a stage.
Originally published at chai-khana.org.