Image: Warwick Gow

Zen Zen Zo


Zen Zen Zo is a Brisbane-based physical theatre company at the forefront of contemporary performance and training in Australia. Founded by Lynne Bradley and Simon Woods in 1992, the company has continually produced innovative theatre experiences that have challenged and delighted audiences. Zen Zen Zo has created over 50 new productions, ranging from radical reinterpretations of the classics to innovative self-devised works, many of which have been showcased at national and international festivals.

Zen Zen Zo’s aesthetic was forged between ancient Asian dance-theatre traditions, the European avant-garde theatre movement, and contemporary pop culture. This fusion of old and new gives Zen Zen Zo its unique appeal and an audience base that spans several generations. Zen Zen Zo believes in a theatre of contact, in which the relationship between the actors and the audience is at once intimate and shocking, compelling and confrontational, ritualistic and profane.


“I am a gardener of beginnings. I plant an embryo into clay and from there I watch you grow. The earth is part of your being, your cells stem from the mud and dirt, and your blood is stained with silt and soil. When all is done, your body returns to the earth and I begin to sow again…”

REBIRTH by Zen Zen Zo tells the cyclical tale of birth, breath, life and death through a sea of shifting anomalous bodies. As explosive as our own colossal bang and as still as an embryo before she breathes, REBIRTH sways between high-energy dance theatre and moving meditation. Drawing together contemporary dance theatre, Butoh and an ensemble of highly skilled physical performers, REBIRTH by Zen Zen Zo is a tribute to life, to death, and to all that lies between. The work draws attention to the rich muddiness of humanity that ties us together across borders, across continents and across differences.

This 50-minute contemporary performance is performed by a cast of six dynamic physical artists, layering movement with poetic text from the Gardener himself. REBIRTH is a site-specific work with a deep connection to nature. It is designed to activate unique and non-traditional spaces. The work presents a world before birth and after death. It invites audiences into that space between, where we see bodies built from mud and clay, imbued with the spark of life and nurtured by an elusive gardener until REBIRTH.

Maisie Crosdale