The Sydney Theatre Company has chosen one of its own to lead the company for the next three years. Today it announced 30-year-old local director Kip Williams has been appointed artistic director.
It is a brave, potentially risky decision, but one that should be applauded.
Williams has been acting in the position since August following the sudden and unexpected exit of the company’s British artistic director, Jonathan Church, who had only been in the job nine months.
Williams has been a resident director with the STC since January 2013 and is widely regarded as an intelligent, incisive director acclaimed for his innovative productions, such as the Helpmann Award-winning Suddenly Last Summer; Macbeth starring Hugo Weaving; and most recently a radical reinterpretation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (which divided audiences).
There will doubtless be members of the arts community sceptical about a young and largely untried candidate stepping into the shoes more recently worn by Andrew Upton (2008–2015), his wife and co-artistic director, Cate Blanchett (2008–2012); and the formidable Robyn Nevin (1999–2007).
Nonetheless the NIDA graduate has proved himself a capable leader and a calm and steadying influence in the few months he has run the company.
In a statement Upton says: “The board has made an excellent choice. Kip is the sort of unique talent that is rare to find. Confident in his own creative voice and a terrific collaborator, he has an incredible track record and is on the cusp of a magnificent career.”
Blanchett adds: “This is wonderful news, not only for STC but for the whole theatre community. Kip’s appointment marks an exciting new chapter.”
Actors Weaving, Ursula Yovich and Nevin have all been directed by Williams and have all voiced their support. Adelaide Festival co-artistic director and former Belvoir artistic director Neil Armfield noted it was: “very reassuring to have the artistic directorship of STC finally settled” adding, “Kip is one of the outstanding directors of his generation, clearly a new force in Australian theatre.”
Williams’s appointment follows a national and international search and takes effect immediately.