PHILIP Seymour Hoffman, the actor who won an Oscar this year for his performance as Truman Capote in the film Capote, heads the line-up of international and local talent in the STC’s 2007 season, which was launched last night in Sydney by artistic director Robyn Nevin.
A recent play by American Don DeLillo is also scheduled, along with two new Australian plays and two Australian classics: David Williamson’s Don’s Party, and Patrick White’s scathing dissection of Australian suburbia, The Season at Sarsaparilla.
The co-founder of the acclaimed Theatre de Complicite, Annabel Arden, will also direct, as will that other, homegrown Oscar winner, Cate Blanchett.
Hoffman’s inclusion in the program was not a matter of persuasion, Nevin said, he just wanted to work in Sydney with the Sydney Theatre Company.
Hoffman will direct a new play by Andrew Upton (the husband of Cate Blanchett), Riflemind, starring Hugo Weaving. "Philip has known Andrew for a long time," says Nevin. "So when I showed him Andrew’s play he just loved it and straight away he said yes. He is extremely serious about his work in the theatre."
This year the STC was criticised for producing just one new Australian work in its season of 12 plays. Next year the company improves its record slightly with the production of Riflemind and Michael Cove’s Troupers.
The season also includes two controversial international works. These are DeLillo’s "spare and austere" Love-Lies-Bleeding, a meditation on death and dying, in which Nevin herself will appear; and the Scottish playwright David Harrower’s equally controversial Blackbird, with its problematic return to what might be called Lolita territory. It will be directed by Cate Blanchett, in her second only outing as a director.
Nevin has scheduled four works specifically for her Actors Company: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (directed by Edward Dick, of the Cheek by Jowl theatre company), Tales From the Vienna Woods (directed by Jean-Pierre Mignon), the Patrick White (directed by Benedict Andrews) and a new commission, The Art of War, by English playwright Stephen Jeffreys, which will be directed by Annabel Arden.
To leaven the mix the 2007 season also includes a musical, the popular Melbourne Theatre Company production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and the bizarre, crazy UK hit of last year, Ying Tong: A Walk with the Goons, by Roy Smiles. The play is set both in an insane asylum and in Spike Milligan’s mind: how to tell which is which will be the audience’s pleasure, no doubt, to discover.