The Sydney Morning Herald
By Bryce Hallet and Claire O’Rourke
August 19, 2000
…but it was all right on the night
It was the climactic scene of the Sydney Theatre Company’s White Devil and director Gail Edwards didn’t like what she was seeing.
"Stop the show," she shouted, leaping to her feet at the sight of actor Hugo Weaving slumped on the floor during the grim massacre scene at Thursday’s preview.
The audience was equally stunned, having assumed that Weaving was still acting.
He had in fact passed out – the legacy a heavy bout of the flu – when the heat and passion of the moment got the better of his Brachiano.
Yesterday the company was keen to assure patrons all was well for the opening night at the Theatre Royal last night.
When the curtain came down to enthusiastic applause, it capped off one of the dramatic weeks in the company’s history.
The play had earlier been invited – lock, stock and barrel – to New York for the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s mainstage season in March. But Thursday night’s drama was still on the minds of all at the STC.
General manager Rob Brookman said yesterday: "The Sydney Theatre Company wishes to assure its patrons who attended the preview that Hugo Weaving was at no stage in any danger during the performance. The spectacular fight and death scenes in the production are professionally choreographed and staged."
Weaving joined cast, including Angie Milliken, Philip Quast and Jeremy Sims, for the curtain call and spent yesterday resting before the opening last night.
"The fact that he, despite not feeling well, continued through rehearsals is terrific and typical of the kind of spirit that actors have for their work," Brookman said.
The invitation to New York followed a visit by the Brooklyn Academy’s executive producer, Joseph Melillo, to a preview earlier this week.
"I’m shell-shocked," Gail Edwards said. "They want The White Devil , including all the Australian cast if possible, to be presented between a Peter Brook and a Peter Hall production – what illustrious company to be in."
Edwards, who directed The Boy From Oz, presented her updated version of Schiller’s Don Carlos at the academy this year, a mecca for innovative theatre, music and dance.
"Joe Melillo is a great fan of my work and loved the way Don Carlos was modernised. It’s pretty damn exciting to be asked to stage a second classic in New York, one which rises to the challenge, I hope, of making it feel as though it was written yesterday."
With recent overseas tours of the acclaimed Cloudstreet, Wesley Enoch’s Stolen and Deborah Cheetham’s White Baptist ABBA Fan, the country’s homegrown theatre is looking far less insular than it did a few year ago.
"I think opportunities of this kind will happen more and more," says STC artistic director Robyn Nevin. "It’s important to forge international links and it’s great that our talent is being recognised."