February 22, 2015
Andrew Upton and his wife, Cate Blanchett, are planning to move to America once his term as artistic director at the Sydney Theatre Company comes to an end later this year.
Upton, who has held the artistic directorship since 2008 (including five years as co-artistic director with Blanchett) says the STC board offered him another term, and he considered staying for one more year, but he reconsidered in favour of time with his family living and working overseas.
“It was a very hard decision,” Upton says. “But the deciding factor was that our children are still of an age where they can be mobile without disrupting their education too much. It won’t be a permanent move. Sydney will always be our home. But it will be an adventure.”
Upton and Blanchett’s children are Dashiell, 13, Roman, 10 and Ignatius, 6. They have been attending school in Sydney, while Upton ran the STC and Blanchett divided her time between family and film commitments overseas.
“We’re all looking forward to spending more time together in one place,” Upton says. “We spent nine years living in England and we loved it. But now we’d like to try America. They have terrific [opportunities in] television there and Cate has a very strong film career there, too, obviously.”
Upton, who has used his time at the STC to develop his career as a director, says he looks forward to returning to writing. “I want to get back into the freelance writing lifestyle, which I have been missing,” he says. “I am interested in writing for television and film, as well as theatre.”
Upton’s stage adaptations include Cyrano de Bergerac, Children of the Sun, Hedda Gabler, Uncle Vanya, The White Guard and this year’s The Present, which will star Blanchett and Richard Roxburgh. His directing credits include Cyrano de Bergerac, Waiting for Godot (which tours to London in August) and an upcoming production of Samuel Beckett’s Endgame starring Hugo Weaving and Robert Menzies. Upton says he also has a number of projects lined up for Sydney in 2016.
Upton says he is most proud of the younger artists nurtured during his tenure: directors Kip Williams, Sarah Giles, Sarah Goodes, Imara Savage and Paige Rattray; and designers Renee Mulder and David Fleischer. His programming has also attracted many of the country’s highest profile actors, including Weaving, Roxburgh, Robyn Nevin and Geoffrey Rush.
“I’ve tried to create a place where artists at the top of their game want to come and do their best work alongside emerging and developing artists,” Upton says.
The STC has engaged Richard Evans, of REA Consulting, (former chief executive of the Sydney Opera House) to assist with the search for a new artistic director. The process is expected to take six to eight months.
Possible frontrunners include Lee Lewis, the current artistic director of Griffin whose term ends at the end of this year, and Marion Potts (the outgoing artistic director of Malthouse Theatre in Melbourne). Roxburgh or Weaving would bring star power to the role and it is also possible that a group of young directors may consider a joint application.
Company policy precludes him from being involved in the selection process, Upton says. “I’d love to speculate but I have no actual insight.”