The Sydney Theatre Company has announced the members of its long-awaited, full-time actors’ ensemble.

Known as the Actors Company, it includes Melbourne actors Pamela Rabe, Dan Spielman, Marco Chiappi, and Deborah Mailman, who, with John Gaden, Brandon Burke, Peter Carroll, Marta Dusseldorp, Eden Falk and Hayley McElhinney, will be employed for two years, full-time. Another two members will be appointed later this year.

The STC is the only state company in the country to have a full-time ensemble.

While the move is a blessing for actors, the company’s 2006 season proves that Australian playwrights are an endangered species.

There is only one new Australian play (down from three this year) among the STC’s season of 12 plays. The honour goes to Campion Decent’s Embers, a piece of “verbatim theatre” based on interviews with residents of north-eastern Victoria about the 2003 bushfires.

But the season will also see a revival of Peter Kenna’s 1973 play, A Hard God. And STC’s artistic associate, Tom Wright, with Barrie Kosky and Paul Capsis, will create The Lost Echo – Part One and Part Two, described as “an unprecedented theatrical event staged over two nights”. It is inspired by Ovid’s Metamorphoses.

STC’s artistic director Robyn Nevin is clearly a fan of the traditional play – the rest of the season is a revival of classics or comes courtesy of proven hits from the big boys on the West End and Broadway.

The season (all 12 shows were either written or created by men) includes Woman in Mind by Alan Ayckbourn, David Hare’s translation of Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children, Alan Bennett’s The History Boys (this will be staged by its original National Theatre cast from London, directed by Nicholas Hytner) and Harold Pinter’s A Kind of Alaska.

Cate Blanchett will direct the Pinter play in a double bill with David Mamet’s Reunion, which will be directed by her husband, writer Andrew Upton – a directorial debut for the couple.

Nevin offered Blanchett a directing role after directing her in Hedda Gabler last year: Blanchett reminded her of herself when she was a young actress.

“I sort of recognised the qualities and the tendencies; she always had a clear and strong overview and a great interest in the play, not just her own role in it. She and I used to talk about the play a lot and I thought, ‘Yes you’ve got a directorial interest’,” Nevin told The Sydney Morning Herald.

Fresh from Broadway success comes John Patrick Shanley’s 2005 Tony-winning play, Doubt, directed by the Melbourne Theatre Company’s Julian Meyrick, which indicates it will be in next year’s MTC season (to be announced next week).

Stellar Broadway is also represented by Tony-awarded American actor Jefferson Mays performing US writer Doug Wright’s 2004 Pulitzer prize-winner I Am My Own Wife .

Fellow contemporary US writer Neil La Bute’s 2005 off-Broadway hit – Fat Pig – about a man who falls in love with a fat woman, together with the 2002 multi-Tony-award-winning musical, Urinetown , completes the STC’s comprehensive sweep of recent American hits.

Revivals also include Moliere’s The Bourgeois Gentleman, directed by Jean-Pierre Mignon.

The Actor’s Company will perform in this play, as well as in Mother Courage and The Lost Echo.



Venue Sydney Theatre, Millers Point, NSW
Umbrella Event Sydney Theatre Company Season 2006
First Date 13 November 2006
Opening Date 18 November 2006
Last Date 9 December 2006
Dates Estimated No
Status Professional
World Premiere No
Description The bourgeois gentleman is Jourdain; nouveau riche, boor, rat-cunning, but painfully aware of his lack of gentility. He employs a bewildering array of consultants to teach him the trappings of a true gentleman; philosophers, tailors, dancing instructors, fencing coaches all come and go in a rapid sequence of scenes that tear strips off the pretensions and foibles of the times.


Photos/Scans: Tracey Schramm and Tamsyn Strike