Andrew Upton says the 2016 Sydney Theatre Company program will explore, “Race, and politics, and sex and power. Lots of sex. And comedy! Because what’s life without sex and comedy?”
Programming his final season, the outgoing STC artistic director has included some of his favourite classics. “One of the greatest plays of the 20th century”, Tom Stoppard’s brilliantly comic Arcadia will come alive starring Ryan Corr and Andrea Demetriades. Rose Byrne returns to the STC for the first time in 15 years for David Mamet’s searing study of Hollywood shysters and conmen, Speed-the-Plow. And the great Arthur Miller’s acerbic post-World War Two drama All My Sons – a play about “capitalism, the great American dream and the rot of money” will be given a contemporary adaptation by the STC’s Helpmann Award-winning director, Kip Williams.
New Australian works include Sue Smith’s Machu Picchu, “a really adult piece of drama about relationships and what you sacrifice to be in them” starring Lisa McCune. The STC’s 2014 Patrick White Fellow, Angela Betzien, presents an unsettling mystery called The Hanging, a play that explores teenage angst and “the urge to disappear”. There will also be a reprisal of local writer Louis Nowra’s Australian classic, Golden Age, which Upton calls, “One of greatest Australian plays ever written.”
Upton has also programmed some of the best contemporary international works, including the Almeida Theatre’s Olivier Award-winning King Charles III. It imagines life with Prince Charles on the throne following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, a life in which “it all goes horribly wrong [with] all sorts of great Shakespearian tropes”. Ayad Akhtar’s provocative, Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Disgraced, which explores how life can change in the blink of an eye, is told form the point of view of a young hotshot, Indian-born, Manhattan-based lawyer after 9/11.
Upton and his wife Cate Blanchett are moving to the US at the end of the year, although both will return for work commitments: Blanchett for her television directorial debut with Stateless and Upton for Speed-the-Plow, which he’s directing and his adaptation of the notorious French farce A Flea in Her Ear, both for STC. British artistic director Jonathan Church will take over at the end of the year.