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New a.d. follows a tough act

Marchand has scheduled works by some writers new to Griffin

SYDNEY — Nick Marchand, the new artistic director of Sydney’s Griffin Theater Co., knows he has big shoes to fill.

Marchand recently accompanied the Griffin’s departing a.d., David Berthold, to a sponsors’ meeting where charts and graphs showed auds grew by 300% during Berthold’s tenure.

The company, which is dedicated to presenting new Australian plays in its diamond-shaped 120-seat theater, set a box office record with Debra Oswald’s “Mr. Bailey’s Minder” in 2004, broke that record with the same playwright’s “The Peach Season” in 2006, and topped it again with a hit engagement of Tommy Murphy’s “Holding the Man” this month.

For 2007, Marchand has scheduled works by some writers new to Griffin and is planning a homecoming for others.

“One of the things I’m trying to encourage is diversity of playwrights,” Marchand says.

The 2007 play schedule will start with an encore engagement of “Holding the Man,” about a gay couple dealing with and eventually succumbing to AIDS, to run Feb. 8-March 3 during the city’s gay, lesbian and transgender Mardi Gras Festival.

Next, Daniel Keene, Australia’s most exported playwright, returns to Griffin after an extended absence with “The Nightwatchman,” directed by Lee Lewis and featuring William Zappa,skedded March 16 through April 7.

The season will continue April 28-May 26 with the relationship drama “October,” written by emerging scribe Ian Wilding and directed by Julian Meyrick.

Wesley Enoch’s “The Story of the Miracles at Cookie’s Table,” which explores culture lost over generations, will be directed by Marion Potts, running Aug. 17-Sept. 22.

Lastly, one of Sydney’s busiest writers, Katherine Thomson, will contribute “King Tide,” about a crusading journalist, to be directed by Patrick Nolan with Freya Stafford. That play will run Oct. 26-Nov. 24.

Marchand, unlike Berthold, doesn’t plan to direct or write any plays during his first season.

“We’re trying to make the most of the resources we have,” he says.