New seats to Sydney Theatre Company’s critically acclaimed production of ‘Wonnangatta’ have been released. This is the result of the New South Wales Government allowing increased audience capacity. Tickets are expected to sell out quickly.
A haunting tale of mystery revenge
Written by Angus Cerini
Directed by Jessica Arthur
With Wayne Blair and Hugo Weaving
Wonnangatta Station, 1918. Two men arrive at a dark and empty farmhouse looking for the manager, their friend Jim Barclay. No one’s heard from him for more than a month. Something’s amiss. Then a grim discovery sets the men off on a journey across the harsh Australian terrain, looking for answers, maybe for revenge.
Angus Cerini’s multi-award-winning The Bleeding Tree was a sensation on its premier at Griffin Theatre and again when remounted by STC at The Wharf. In Wonnangatta, Cerini’s dark lyricism explores the Australian landscape – geographic and psychological – in a hard-driving yet poetic celebration of language and story.
Who better than theatrical powerhouses Hugo Weaving and Wayne Blair to bring these words to life in an exciting world premiere production directed by Resident Director Jessica Arthur
This Australian gothic fable will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Wonnangatta was developed with the assistance of the Australian Writers’ Guild David Williamson Prize Development Grant.
Designer Jacob Nash Lighting Designer Nick Schlieper Composer & Sound Designer Stefan Gregory
21 September–31 October, Roslyn Packer Theatre
Approx. Duration: 1hr 30mins no interval Content: Infrequent strong language, violent imagery
In Tennessee Williams CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF Big Daddy is dying but he doesn’t know it yet. It is his birthday. Big Mama is in the dark. Brick is at the bottom of a bottle. But Brick’s wife Maggie is alive, desperately alive, and dancing like a cat on a hot tin roof. We meet the fabled family when lies are rife, tensions are boiling over and their future is at stake.
Kip Williams production serves Williams’ epic drama well. He leads a great creative team who dynamically set up the world for the actors to work in, and they respond by giving strong performances.
Hugo Weaving has a darkly masculine energy as the formidable, imposing Big Daddy. Weaving makes his first appearance at the very tail of Act 1. Big Daddy is the patriarch of the family who everyone lies in fear of. He has had a health scare and thought that his reign might be over but the results seem to be positive so he is back being the boss again. The main thing that he wants is to get Brick’s (his favourite son) life back on track again. Big Daddy and Brick have one hell of an extended, prolonged scene together with sparks flying back and forth.Continue reading CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF : SEARING DRAMA @ ROSLYN PACKER THEATRE→
It was with a sense of anticipation and apprehension as I entered the Roslyn Packer Theatre. I had a vivid memory of John Bell’s 1971 incendiary performance as Ui as part of the then Old Tote Theatre Company’s production. I was concerned that Hugo Weaving’s performance might straddle the high bar Bell had set.
However before I come to that, a brief synopsis of the play. The play charts the rise of a criminal megalomaniacal demagogue Ui and his gang of thugs who take over the grocery industry as well as that of a neighbouring town, as a precursor to take over the world. Bertolt Brecht, who left Germany in 1933, wrote the play in 1941 in Finland, not as a play for the Germans but for an American audience. Brecht set the play in 1030’s Chicago where the Italian mafia ‘ruled’ unchecked. So Hitler’s inner circle had Italian names which director Kip Williams has retained.
Like the Arias where one artist dominated, one film swept all before it. HACKSAW RIDGE won ten awards including best Director for Mel Gibson, Best Actor Andrew Garfield, and Best Supporting Actor Hugo Weaving.
Odessa Young, who starred in the film The Daughter, directed by Simon Stone, bucked the trend by being one of the youngest actors to win the Best Actress Award.
The television awards had a mixed bunch of winners. Among the winners were Wentworth for Best Drama Series, The Kettering Incident for Best Mini Series, Upper Middle Bogan for Best Television Comedy Series, and Master Chef Australia for Best Reality Television series.
Best Lead Actor in a Television Drama was won by Samuel Johnson for Molly, Best Supporting Actor in a Television Drama went to Damon Herriman for Secret City, whilst Best Actress in a Television Drama was won by Elizabeth Debicki for The Kettering Incident, and Best Supporting Actress went to the usually comedic Celia Pacquola for The Beautiful Lie.
The Longford Lyell Award for a Lifetime Achievement in Film and Television went to Paul Hogan.
The Trailblazer Award, created to highlight an individual’s achievements, abilities and successes as an inspiration to all invested in screen,went to Isla Fisher.
The Byron Kennedy Award for Film and Television Innovation went to Lynette Wallworth.
Last Sunday night at the State Theatre the Australian premiere of Hacksaw Ridge took place.
HACKSAW RIDGE tells the true story of a Seventh Day Adventist Desmond Doss who was drafted into the military during the World War 2 Battle of Okinawa but refused to carry a weapon because of his beliefs. Despite that fact he was awarded two Congressional Medals of Honour, the highest commendation of valour, but humbly only accepted one of them.
The international stars did not attend the red carpet but the film has a largely an Australian cast, many of whom were in attendance at the premiere .
Director Mel Gibson was also present and pleased with the fact that the film had a standing ovation in Cannes. It is his first directorial stint in a decade and was shot mainly in the Penrith and Richmond area.
Addendum – In the AACTA award nominations that have just been announced, Hacksaw Ridge has received 13 nominations.
Featured image- Angela Bishop and Richard Wilkins. All images by Ben Apfelbaum (c).
A Samuel Beckett night at the theatre is like no other. One is just taken over by his bold, raw take on life. Even after all these years, one is still gobsmacked, stunned, by what one is taking place on stage. The experience is like being set upon by the coldest, bleakest wind.
The Sydney Theatre Company (STC) season tickets for 2015 go on sale from next Tuesday (14th October) now that their priority booking period for existing subscribers has ended.
Here is a snapshot- in chronological order- of the different plays on offer in what is another exciting year for the STC in another year of Andrew Upton’s tenure as Artistic Director.
By Andrew Bovell
15 January to 7 March 2015, Wharf 1
Opening Night: Tuesday 20 January 2015
Andrew Bovell’s hilarious 1988 play, After Dinner, is rediscovered with a top comedic cast playing lonely singles trying to escape their nine-to-five routines on a night out at the pub. With bouffant hair and shoulder pads, three office colleagues played by Helen Thomson, Anita Hegh and Rebecca Massey, are raring to go. At a table nearby are one-and-a-half potentially eligible blokes (Glenn Hazeldine and Josh McConville). But before the band has even hit the stage it’s pretty clear things are going to get messy tonight. It may be a comedy but Bovell’s first play bears the same psychological acuity that audiences have loved in his more recent plays at STC; When the Rain Stops Falling and The Secret River. Imara Savage (Machinal) directs.
SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER
By Tennessee Williams
9 February to 21 March 2015, Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House Opening Night: Friday 13 February 2015
Former Artistic Director Robyn Nevin is back at STC as the formidable Violet in Tennessee Williams’ Suddenly Last Summer. In the sinister hothouse garden of the late Sebastian Venable, his mother is determined to do whatever is necessary to stop her niece Catharine (Eryn Jean Norvill) babbling the dreadful truth of her son’s demise. The macabre, disturbing and dark portrait of moral disintegration is directed by STC Resident Director Kip Williams collaborating with designer Alice Babidge and utilising live video to expose the characters’ nightmarish secrets. Also confirmed for the cast are Susan Prior and Paula Arundell.
The voice of the river in James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake adapted and performed by Olwen Fouéré
10 March to 11 April 2015, Wharf 2
Opening Night: Thursday 12 March 2015
One of Ireland’s leading theatre-makers, Olwen Fouéré, was invited to STC as part of 2011’s Abbey Theatre highlight, Terminus. Now she returns with her own scorching show that has won ecstatic reviews this year at London’s National Theatre and in Edinburgh. In riverrun, Fouéré brings to theatrical life the final sequence of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, charting the progress of the River Liffey. The Scotsman’s five-star review reports that “for an astonishing 65 minutes, she holds the audience enthralled, as she leads us through Joyce’s glimmering vision of the life of the city as it wakes to another day, of its aspirations and follies and political posturings, then deeper and deeper into the rushing water and into something like a female life-story…” London’s Daily Telegraph simply claims: “Fouéré’s bold, funny and eloquent drama might just be life-changing.”
By April De Angelis
26 March to 16 May 2015, Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House
Opening Night: Saturday 28 March 2015
Comedy icon Jane Turner (Kath & Kim) heads the cast of Jumpy, the delicate West End comedy by April De Angelis woven from frazzled hopes and parental anxiety. Hilary is turning 50, her marriage is failing, her job is going nowhere and her teenage daughter is feral. To top it off, she’s coming to terms with the fact that, eventually, every liberal, former protestor and fair-minded parent finds themselves at the head of a dictatorship. Pamela Rabe, director of STC’s In the Next Room, or the vibrator play and Elling, will walk the line again between sweet comedy and poignancy at the helm of this Melbourne Theatre Company production.
By Samuel Beckett
31 March to 9 May 2015, Sydney Theatre
Opening Night: Tuesday 7 April 2015
Furthering their investigation of Samuel Beckett following STC’s Waiting for Godot in 2013, Artistic Director Andrew Upton and Hugo Weaving (in his fifth STC show in as many years) team up again. Endgame is considered by many as the richly rewarding companion piece to the great playwright’s earlier existential farce. Weaving is the monstrous Hamm, mercilessly bullying his son Clov while his old parents, Nagg and Nell (Bruce Spence and Sarah Peirse), are kept in rubbish bins from which they occasionally emerge but never escape. Yet as inGodot, despite the apocalyptic bleakness, Beckett somehow brings extraordinary comic touches and pathos to what he portrays as the great despair of a ruined world. Set and lighting design are by Nick Schlieper and Weaving is part of the creative team too, collaborating with Upton as his Associate Director.
BOYS WILL BE BOYS
By Melissa Bubnic
16 April to 9 May 2015, Wharf 2
Opening Night: Saturday 18 April 2015
Danielle Cormack makes a welcome return to STC as the power-suited Astrid Wentworth, a currency trader in the dog-eat-dog world of frenzied buying and selling. Satirising this world of men, the play is abrasive and searing as it inverts all expectations of moral certainty. An STC commission, Boys will be boys is a smart, funny and risqué work by Melissa Bubnic, winner of STC’s 2010 Patrick White Playwrights’ Award.
BATTLE OF WATERLOO
By Kylie Coolwell
1 June to 27 June 2015, Wharf 1
Opening Night: Friday 5 June 2015
Kylie Coolwell’s debut play is an extraordinarily tender and compelling story of thwarted love. In a Waterloo apartment block, a community holds tightly together despite the pressures that bombard it daily. An exuberant cast of characters swirl through the building, blowing in great gusts of humour, pain, hope and disappointment. At the heart of this vibrant community is Cassie (Shari Sebbens), a promising young fashion designer with a great future ahead of her. But when her partner Ray (Luke Carroll) returns from a spell inside he brings with him the distracting forces of love, chaos and cops. STC Resident Director Sarah Goodes has been closely involved in the play’s development, nurturing it through early incarnations at Playwriting Australia’s Redfern Salon and STC’s Rough Draft program. Confirmed casting also includes Hunter Page-Lochard and Roxanne McDonald.
LOVE AND INFORMATION
By Caryl Churchill
9 July to 15 August 2015, Wharf 1 Theatre
Opening Night: Saturday 11 July 2015
With Love and Information one of Britain’s greatest living playwrights, Caryl Churchill, explores the curse of the information age and the search for meaning in society. A dizzying kaleidoscope of more than a hundred characters reveals different, tantalising vignettes of life. The play questions how we reconcile the daily bombardment of facts, gossip, news feeds – the blather of modern life – with our often too-fractured relationships with those around us. For STC’s co-production with Malthouse Melbourne, Resident Director Kip Williams collaborates with designer David Fleischer and a cast including Glenn Hazeldine, Anita Hegh, Zahra Newman, Alison Whyte and Ursula Yovich.
After Anton Chekhov’s Platonov
By Andrew Upton
4 August to 19 September 2015, Sydney Theatre
Opening: Saturday 8 August 2015
Variously known as Wild Honey, Fatherlessness, Play without Title and Platonov, Anton Chekhov’s first play was unknown at all until it was discovered in 1920 in a safety-deposit box 16 years after the playwright’s death. Roughly four hours of existing theatrical material revolving around Chekhovian tropes of lust, longing, vodka and shattered dreams, imbued with the familiar warmth, humour and insight, will be distilled into a new play by Andrew Upton, entitled The Present. All the drama is fuelled by near-nuclear collision of two soul mates, Mikhail Platonov (Richard Roxburgh) and Anna Petrovna (Cate Blanchett). Having last played opposite each other on stage in STC’s much-loved production of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, adapted by Upton, these two actors will dig out the sorrow, the heartache and the hilarious tragedy of love foiled for all the wrong reasons – money not the least of them. STC welcomes Irish director John Crowley, renowned for his work on the West End and Broadway, making his Australian debut.
DEATH AND THE MAIDEN
By Ariel Dorfman
28 August to 10 October 2015, Wharf 1
Opening Night: Tuesday 1 September 2015
Set against the backdrop of an unnamed South American post-dictatorship state, Ariel Dorfman’s breathtaking international hit play, Death and the Maiden, tells the story of a woman for whom memories are a prison. Years ago, she was blindfolded and tortured for her politics. She never saw her captor but she did hear him. When her husband invites a stranger to their isolated beach house, she’s sure she knows that voice. In 1992 STC presented the Australian premiere of the scorching new play which went on to tour throughout Australia. Now for a new co-production with Melbourne Theatre Company, Leticia Cáceres directs Susie Porter and Eugene Gilfedder for a heart-stopping night at the theatre.
ARMS AND THE MAN
By George Bernard Shaw
14 September to 31 October 2015, Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House
Opening: Friday 18 September 2015
Richard Cottrell directs George Bernard Shaw’s classic Arms and the Man, collaborating with the design team of Julie Lynch and Michael Scott-Mitchell to create a sumptuous period confection. As the Serbo-Bulgarian War of 1885 rages, the lovely Raina (Andrea Demetriades) is engaged to the gallant and posturing war hero Sergius. When a fugitive Swiss soldier, Bluntschli (Mitchell Butel), escaping the battle field, abruptly lands in her bedroom, he initially seems threatening. But he quickly reveals he’d prioritise chocolate bullets over real ones any day. Raina has no option but to fall in love. With his rapier wit, sparkling dialogue and intriguing subplots, Shaw yet again skewers the hypocrisies of the human condition while taking a dig at the romanticisation of both love and war.
From the novel by Virginia Woolf. Adapted by Sarah Ruhl.
9 November to 19 December 2015, Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House
Opening Night: Friday 13 November 2015
In Orlando, Sarah Ruhl’s (In The Next Room, or the vibrator play) adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s novel about sex, love and history, the audience is taken on a glorious journey of time travel and gender bending with Jacqueline McKenzie. This enchanting frolic through the ages tells the story of a young man in the court of Elizabeth I with whom many fall in love, including the Queen herself. After a particularly debauched night in Constantinople, he awakes from a long slumber to discover he is now, without any doubt, a woman. She must now find her way back home. The ensuing adventure takes almost four hundred years as she tries to work out what it actually means to be a human being, grappling with the massive changes that take us from the beginning to the end of the Age of Enlightenment. STC Resident Director Sarah Goodes directs the Australian premiere of this whimsical and literary nugget.
By William Shakespeare
24 November 2015 to 9 January 2016, Sydney Theatre
Opening Night: Saturday 28 November 2015
Rising to the challenge of a role that is said to be the “Everest of classical acting”, Geoffrey Rush is back at STC for the first time since 1993 when he played opposite newcomer Cate Blanchett in David Mamet’s Oleanna. Director Neil Armfield has been a more recent visitor when he directed STC’s unforgettable The Secret River in 2013. The long-shared history, experience and passion of these two leading Australian artists will make for a startling production of Shakespeare’s King Lear, the master portrait of a man in decline confronting the perpetual battle between good and evil. In other inspired casting already confirmed for the ensemble that will surround the king, Robyn Nevin is The Fool, Mark Leonard Winter plays Edgar and Meyne Wyatt is Edmund.
SPECIAL SEASON OFFERS
Two other shows complete STC’s offerings of 2015
By Colin Thiele
Adapted for the stage by Tom Holloway
24 April to 17 May 2015, Wharf 1 Theatre
Opening Night: Saturday 25 April 2015
A return season of Colin Thiele’s much-loved Storm Boy adapted by Tom Holloway – STC’s 2013 co-production with Barking Gecko Theatre Company – plays in Sydney and on a regional tour in 2015. Directed by John Sheedy, the play follows Storm Boy as he roams the savage landscape of the Coorong, picking up some unlikely friends including the enigmatic Fingerbone Bill and a family of orphaned pelicans, including his favourite, Mr Percival.
THE WHARF REVUE 2015
Written and created by Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe and Phillip Scott
21 October to 19 December 2015, Wharf 1
Opening Night: Thursday 22 October 2015
STC’s perennial favourite, The Wharf Revue, is back for a 15th birthday celebration of satirical histrionics in 2015. As ever, there will be up-to-the-second sketches on whichever cultural malaise or governmental gaffe is news of the day. But no birthday party is complete without a dose of nostalgia, so there’ll also be a parade of past indignitaries – a who’s who of 21st century embarrassments, from politicians to celebrities.
Another great night at the Paddington RSL for the Film Critics Circle of Australia (FCCA) annual awards, Tuesday March 11.
MC Rod Quinn presided over a very relaxed ceremony where a meat tray as a prize would not have been out of place.
First recipient of the night for best performance by a young actor went to star of THE ROCKET, Sitthiphon Disamoe. The win by the diminutive dynamo, who was there to collect his gong, augured well for the picture in general.