Blanchett brings stars to Sydney

Soderbergh to direct play for theater company

Cate Blanchett’s debut season as co-artistic director of the Sydney Theater Company will feature productions helmed by directors Steven Soderbergh and Liv Ullmann and see a repurposing of the resident Actors Company.

At a launch event Monday in Sydney for the not-for-profit company’s 2009 subscription season, Blanchett and her husband and co-topper, Andrew Upton, declined to give more details about the Soderbergh project beyond saying it would be staged for six weeks in the 330-seat Wharf 1 Theater starting Dec. 18, 2009.

As previously announced, Ullmann will direct Blanchett as Blanche in Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire” alongside Joel Edgerton as Stanley and Robin McLeavy as Stella in the 800-seat Sydney Theater. Following the September 2009 Sydney season, “Desire” will also tour to New York and Washington, D.C.

The recruitment of Ullmann and Soderbergh indicates Blanchett will continue to use her film world connections to boost STC’s profile with international talent. She recruited Philip Seymour Hoffman to stage last season’s London-bound premiere of Upton’s play “Riflemind.”

“We want Sydney Theater Company to have a place at the heart of our city,” Blanchett said. “We hope plenty of variety, depth and humor can be found in the 2009 mainstage season.”

Early next year a new troupe of “theater makers” will be formed as the current ensemble of STC performers reaches the end of its three-year arrangement; the team will have “a revised brief focusing on core developmental work within the company.” Known as the Residents, the thesps will work across all levels of the company, with a particular emphasis on new Australian work.

The 2009 season will include a revival of David Williamson’s comedy “The Removalists,” directed by Wayne Blair and starring Steve Bisley.

Marion Potts will direct Anthony Neilson’s “The Wonderful World of Dissocia,” with Justine Clarke. Pamela Rabe will direct Simon Brent’s adaptation of “Elling,” in association with Blighty’s Ambassador Theater Group.

Tommy Murphy’s “Saturn’s Return” will leap from STC’s experimental stage Wharf 2, where it is running, to the mainstage next July. New production will again be directed by David Berthold and feature Leeanna Walsman as the complicated heroine.

Sydney Theater will be the site for scribe Matt Cameron’s “Poor Boy,” featuring new and existing songs by former Crowded House member Tim Finn. That show, co-produced with Melbourne Theater Company, will be directed by MTC’s Simon Phillips. Richard Cotterill will helm Tom Stoppard’s comic “Travesties,” with Jonathan Biggins flanked by Leah Purcell and William Zappa. This year’s Adelaide Festival hit “When the Rain Stops Falling” by Andrew Bovell, directed by Chris Drummond and produced by Adelaide’s Brink Prods., is also included in the season.

Gale Edwards returns to STC to direct the Oz preem of Yasmina Reza’s “God of Carnage,” featuring Jeremy Sims. Benedict Andrews will direct Martin Crimp’s “The City,” with Belinda McClory. “The Mysteries: Genesis” will be performed promenade-style at CarriageWorks, helmed by Upton, Tom Wright and Matt Lutton and featuring the Residents in their mainstage debut.