Geoffrey Rush for Melbourne and Sydney Stages
Geoffrey Rush will be seen on both Sydney and Melbourne stages in 2010. He appears in the MTC's Australian premiere of Broadway musical The Drowsy Chaperone in January, then revives his great Company B collaboration with Neil Armfield with a return of Diary of a Madman at Belvoir Street in December.
Geoffrey Rush told Stage Whispers that he first became aware of The Drowsy Chaperone during his Tony Award winning season of Exit the King on Broadway.
"I heard the music for Drowsy Chaperone when I was in New York, and I laughed like a drain. I’ve never laughed at an original Broadway Cast recording with such vigour. All of the people I was working with on Exit the King – my dresser, the stage-managers – everyone who’d seen it in New York, said it’s the funniest musical comedy book, the lyrics are brilliant, the music’s fantastic – the whole clever, smart conceit of how it’s constructed. It’s not unlike - it’s a companion piece – to Madman – because they’re both about loners in their room being obsessed by things. In this case, this guy is obsessed by musical theatre.
"I phoned Simon Phillips and said, ‘Do you know about this piece?’ He said ‘I saw it at the first preview and optioned the rights the next day.’ And I said ‘I think we should do it.’ "
Other highlights of the MTC season include the world premieres of Hannie Rayson's The Swimming Club, Tony McNamarra's The Grenade, Daniel Keene's Life Without Me, and Australian premieres of J.T. Rogers' mystery Madagascar, America Comedy Dead Man's Cell Phone and the stage adaptation of Oscar winning film All About My Mother.
Neil Armfield launched the 2010 Company B season, his last at the artistic helm of Sydney’s Belvoir Street Theatre, to a packed house at the theatre on Monday night (September 21).
“Clearly it’s the last time I’m going to be up here announcing the season, and that reality for me is bizarre, and sweet, and sad, but joyful. I’m terribly proud of – I can’t even find the right words to say how proud I am of what this company has achieved in the 25 years it’s been experimenting on this stage. I can’t say how proud I am to have been entrusted for the last 15 years with the artistic direction. There is no place I’d rather work. It’s been fantastic.”
The season culminates in December 2010 with a return to Armfield’s landmark 1989 collaboration with Geoffrey Rush – Diary of a Madman.
Other season highlights include the Australian premiere of David Hare’s latest play about the global financial crisis, The Power of Yes, a new play about indigenous artist Albert Namatjira by Scott Rankin, Benedict Andrews’ (War of the Roses) interpretation of Shakespeare’s dark comedy Measure for Measure, the Company B / Griffin co-production of Tom Holloway’s Love Me Tender, inspired by the Black Saturday bushfires and Euripides’ Iphigenia in Aulius, and the La Boite / Company B co-production of Tommy Murphy’s new Australian drama Gwen in Purgatory.
After the season launch, Geoffrey Rush spoke to Stage Whispers, explaining the essence of his artistic collaboration with Neil Armfield.
“People always say that basically I am representing Neil’s energy, intellect and dynamic by proxy on stage. We just click. Neil is not a cerebral director – he likes to take a play and dig into the absolute heart, and the storytelling of it. We’re companions on that kind of journey because I believe in that as well. I’m not really from the school that says there has to be some over-riding conceptual idea, because I think there’s a risk in that sort of thinking, where you push the audience into the lecture hall, rather than the vibrancy of the theatrical space. We click on that level.
“And our passion has always been, because we’re both children of that generation where we first got to go to university and study the 2400 years of traditions of Western theatre, most certainly, and we’ve always liked the idea of being able to explore what those plays still have hidden inside them, that once you rub the lamp, you don’t know what kind of genies are going to come out.”
And coming back to Diary of a Madman after 20 odd years, how do you see it as different from last time?
“I don’t know yet. I worried about the age thing because there are loose references to him being in his early 40s, and I’m now 15 years older than that, but Neil said you don’t want to worry about any of that. You don’t know how old Daffy Duck is. You don’t need to know what Daffy had for breakfast. Daffy enters the playing space, and you just run with the discrepancies between how he sees himself and how the audience really sees him.
“Playing with that gap has always been very fascinating for us.”
The 2010 Company B season kicks off in February with British playwright Polly Stenham’s acclaimed debut play That Face, directed by Lee Lewis, making her own mainstage Belvoir debut.