So I’m just home after the subscriber briefing and season launch for the Sydney Theatre Company.
First some organisational criticism (let’s get the small pains over early). We are all told to be there early to pick up tickets because it will start promptly at 5pm. Except that the doors to the theatre didn’t open till 5 minutes after 5, by which time people had been standing waiting by the doors for more than twenty minutes. Several of the older patrons were getting faint or ill being in a crowd over that time. As someone who is still post-operative a hip replacement my legs were getting tired from standing that long.
Second, Jessi and I intended to go to the Bar At The End Of The Wharf after the briefing for dinner and a drink (her 22nd birthday was the day before). We also saw at least a dozen more people doing the same. Unfortunately the Bar was closed for a private function. To make matters worse, while there was a sign at the top of the stairs to tell people there was no sign at either the top or bottom of the lift so people with movement difficulties had to walk all the way to the end of the wharf to find out. (Another unnecessary task for my new hip and easily tired legs.) So bad scheduling and bad signage guys.
Going to the subscriber briefing is great fun. Listening to Andrew Upton talk about the plays provides an excellent background. He tells you why a particular play, where it might sit in a playwright’s works, how he managed to get Hugo Weaving back for more Beckett. Then there is the excitement of discovering the actors and directors that will be gracing the stage next year.
When you enter the theatre there is a cotton bag (the Company calls it canvas but it is a light one, more a duck) that contains the season brochure and a pen. I love seeing how everyone treats the brochure. Some don’t read it at all and some read along with Andrew Upton as he speaks on each play. Jessi and I read it immediately before the speaking starts and then put it down to listen attentively. I think that Mr Upton deserves total attention.
In 2015 the list of actors, directors and plays is unbelievable. To start at the back end Geoffrey Rush is returning to Sydney’s stage for the first time in years as King Lear, then you hear that he will be directed by Neil Armfield. Upton reminded us of that triple bill’s previous incarnation when Armfield and Rush did Hamlet for the Belvoir those many year ago. He said it was one of his greatest theatrical moments and it’s hard to disagree. I too remember it vividly and with great fondness. If Neil Armfield, Geoffrey Rush, and Shakespeare isn’t enough, to put icing on the cake Robyn Nevin will be playing the Fool.
That’s just one of the standout plays for the year. Cate Blanchett and Richard Roxburgh together in Chekhov again will probably be huge. This time in an Upton adaptation of his unfinished early play, the five hour monster that has already been pruned and adapted by others, most notably as ‘Wild Honey’ back in ’84 by Michael Frayn.
Robyn Nevin will also be appearing in ‘Suddenly, Last Summer’, Tennessee Williams classic but rarely staged play. For those only familiar with the Hepburn, Taylor film the play will be a revelation, the film was an almost total rewrite by Williams and Gore Vidal. (There was a BBC production I remember that was much truer to the original text some time in the ’90s.) Remember what Mrs Venable says, “Sebastian said, ‘Truth is the bottom of a bottomless well.’”
Hugo Weaving and Andrew Upton will be bringing Beckett back to the stage again. This time Upton will be directing him in “Endgame”. I still remember the Benedict Andrew directed production with Peter Carroll a dozen or so years ago and look forward to seeing this one.
Then there are the newer works. Jane Turner of ‘Kath and Kim’ fame will be appearing in ‘Jumpy’, a co-production with Melbourne Theatre Company of April De Angelis’s latest play.
To stick with female british playwrights we have a new play by Caryl Churchill, ‘Love and Information’. STC resident director Kip Williams will be directing this play which has eight actors presenting over a hundred characters in a series of vignettes.
These are just some of the plays. Once again I’ve looked at the total list and decided every play is worth attending so all thirteen for this subscriber (not to mention I’m considering going to at least two of the Pier lunches where you can get a nice lunch and hear from the director and some cast members before the play opens.)
Visit the STC 2015 season website for more details. On the site you can view the brochure, ask for a print one to be mailed and download a PDF booking form.
You’d be a fool to not at least have a look. A subscription can be as few as six plays and it should be easy to find six you want to see.