According to theatre owners the Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG), Riflemind will be the first of a series of international collaborations for Trafalgar Studios as a producing house. Sydney Theatre Company – which is run by Upton and joint artistic director and wife, Hollywood actress Cate Blanchett – has been appointed an associate company and will work with the Trafalgar Studios team to jointly develop new work.
Riflemind had its world premiere in Sydney in October 2007, directed by Hoffman. It tells the story of John, once the frontman for one of the world’s biggest bands, Riflemind. Now John and his wife Lynn are safe from the world in their walled country house. Money and anonymity, however, won’t protect them from themselves or their past. As a comeback tour nears, the band, associated spouses, lovers and hangers-on reunite for a rock’n’roll circus of a weekend.
Scottish stage and screen actor John Hannah (whose credits include the films Four Weddings and a Funeral, Sliding Doors and The Mummy series and, on stage, The Mercy Seat) plays the part of John, originally played by Hugo Weaving. He’s joined by fellow Brit Paul Hilton (Rosmersholm, The Wild Duck, Mourning Becomes Electra on stage) and original Australian cast members Susan Prior (as John’s wife Lynn), Steve Rodgers and Jeremy Sims.
Philip Seymour Hoffman is best known internationally as an actor from Hollywood films such as The Savages, Charlie Wilson’s War, Cold Mountain, Almost Famous, Magnolia, The Talented Mr Ripley, Boogie Nights and Capote, for which he won a Best Actor Oscar. On stage, he’s appeared in the Broadway productions of Long Day’s Journey into Night and True West and has, for many years, been the co-artistic director of New York’s LAByrinth Theater Company.
For LAByrinth, Hoffman’s directing credits include the world premieres of four Stephen Adly Guirgis plays: The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Our Lady of 121st Street, In Arabia We’d All Be Kings and Jesus Hopped the A Train. The last received its UK premiere in 2001 at the Edinburgh Festival, where it won a Fringe First, and in 2002 transferred to London’s Donmar Warehouse and on to the West End’s Arts Theatre, where it was nominated for an Olivier.
Andrew Upton’s other playwriting credits include Hanging Man and new versions of Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac and Gorky’s Philistines. The last marked his London debut last year at the National Theatre.
Currently at Trafalgar Studios 1, the West End premiere of Neil LaBute’s Fat Pig – starring Robert Webb, Kris Marshall, Joanna Page and Ella Smith – is due to finish its limited season on 6 September 2008.
– by Terri Paddock