Born in 1967 in Cape Town. He is a writer, director, scenographer, curator and artist. He is the director of the Third World Bun Fight group. He was the curator of the first public festival, Infecting the City, in Cape Town (2008-2011).
He studied theatre in Dasarts Master of theatre in Amsterdam and considers himself as an explorer of theatre. He tries to excavate the stories of the private individual in the universal and the opposite. For a decade now, he plays in a large number of theatres in Europe, Africa and in Australia.
Following Exhibit A, that he stages in 2010, he creates Exhibit B in 2012 - a play with a very special and important composition. It consists of twelve tableaux vivants. Black comedians play the motionless images of the slaves from the colonial past. The work is inspired by the atrocity of the human zoos, which existed till the beginning of twentieth centuries, serving as a legitimisation for the abominable colonisation. The work of Bailey is without a doubt an interrogation, leading to a strong criticism of a history which haunts humanity in general. Exhibit B is presented at Kunstenfestivaldesarts in Brussels and at Festival d’Avignon provoking a lot of emotion as well as success.
At the end of September 2014, the piece must cancelled at the Barbican in London. Large demonstrations disrupt his installation, antiracist groups condemn the work as racist, realised by a white director, who would banalise the system of slavery. The demonstrators refuse to see the play and the Barbican decides to cancel the representations, fearing even larger demonstrations.
And then, very recently, in late November and early December, Exhibit B is shown in Paris, in the Theatre Gérard Philippe of Saint-Denis and in Centquatre.
Demonstrations crossed the sea and again, some people relate exclusively to the violent clichés of the play, refusing a differentiated confrontation with the work. They shout on the streets in front of both theatres, but also remind us of the the pain caused by past and present slavery. We see Annulez Exhibit B on black banners. Nevertheless it is the same messages that Brett Bailey and his comedians transmit through their work. Passing on the universal melancholy - this deep sadness which we share when we are seized by the pains of others. Exhibit B also leads to the interrogation on the disparities and the current systems of racial segregation.
Three hundred policemen are mobilised so that the representations can take place. A state of exception for the two theatres, but also for the local residents who cannot return to their homes without police control, as well as for the employees of the Centquatre, all are bewildered. It takes Kulturstruktur over an hour to arrive at the appointment with Brett Bailey. An absurd and sad situation - and it is this sadness which we discover in the tired eyes of a director who considers that art has a real civic role. He tells us that he wanted all these people to recognise themselves through their common humanity. Despite of the police, the barricades and the demonstrators, he succeeded - paradoxically. We see numerous high school students leaving the play, profoundly moved. As if transformed by the common History.