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Cate Blanchett to Star in Big and Small at London’s Barbican Theatre

Oscar winner Cate Blanchett will star in a production of Botho Strauss’ Big and Small (Gross und Klein) at London’s Barbican Theatre. The English language translation, by Martin Crimp, is a production of Sydney Theatre Company of which Blachett is co-artistic director. Performances begin on April 13, with opening night following on April 14. The limited engagement concludes April 29. Benedict Andrews directs.

In addition to Blanchett, Big and Small will star Lynette Curran, Anita Hegh, Belinda McClory, Josh McConville, Robert Menzies, Katrina Milosevic, Yalin Ozucelik, Richard Piper, Richard Pyros, Sophie Ross, Chris Ryan, Christopher Stollery and Martin Vaughan.

Blanchett is an Oscar winner for The Aviator, and a nominee for Elizabeth, Notes on a Scandal, I’m Not There and Elizabeth: The Golden Age. Among her many other films are The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Babel, Hanna, Veronica Gueron, Bandits and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Her recent notable stage roles include A Streetcar Named Desire and Hedda Gabler.

First staged in 1978, Big and Small whisks audiences down a rabbit hole and into a curious Wonderland-like world where Lotte (Blanchett) is always trying to fit in. Following a break-up with her husband, Lotte finds herself a stranger to her own society and embarks on a search for human connection and a quest for belonging. At each stage in her journey she has unusual encounters with different people – strangers and acquaintances, family members, an old friend, but in this comedy of tragic solitude, reality itself keeps changing and Lotte becomes increasingly alienated from a culture she struggles to recognise. Like Carroll’s Alice, sometimes Lotte is too big for her surroundings and sometimes too small to be noticed within them.

The Big and Small creative team includes set designer Johannes Schütz, costume designer Alice Babidge, lighting designer Nick Schlieper and composer/sound designer Max Lyandvert.


Cate and Richard Roxburgh Lead Antony and Cleopatra Workshop, Eye Full Scale Production

Is Shakespeare’s ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA headed for a high-profile Australian production? In a two-day workshop for Sydney Theatre Company, the lead roles in the classic play were taken on by Richard Roxburgh and Cate Blanchett, respectively, and the Sydney Morning Herald reports that the company is seeking to mount a full scale production.

Blanchett and Roxburgh no doubt have big shoes to fill: in London in 1998, those roles were inhabited by Alan Rickman and Helen Mirren; in the most recent Broadway production of the play – which opened as a London transfer in late 1951 – the characters were played by Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier.

The production was expected to get a green light as Blanchett and her husband, Andrew Upton, have decided to retire from the Sydney Theatre Company as co-artistic directors and will end their tenure in November 2013. The difficult role, the Herald said on January 19th, is likely to be her swan song with the company.

The workshop was directed by Declan Donnellan and designed by Nick Ormerod. Blanchett is best known for her film roles, including ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ and her portrayal of Katharine Hepburn in Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Aviator’, a role which won her the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She was met with critical acclaim for her performance in STC’s UNCLE VANYA, which she’s set to reprise at NY City Center this summer. Roxburgh was also featured in that production as the title character.

Antony and Cleopatra, one of Shakespeare’s great historical tragedies, follows the relationship between Cleopatra and Mark Antony from the time of the Parthian War to Cleopatra’s suicide.


Blanchett, Upton Quit STC Roles

ACTOR Cate Blanchett and playwright husband Andrew Upton are to relinquish their roles as co-artistic directors and chief executives of Sydney Theatre Company.

The high-profile couple credited with turning around the company’s finances during their tenure will step down at the end of 2013.

STC chairman David Gonski said in a statement yesterday, ”As they announced at the launch of the 2012 season, it was always their intention to only stay for two terms.

”We asked Cate and Andrew to stay on but we respect their decisions to leave in two years’ time to pursue other professional interests.

”As co-artistic directors and CEOs, with inspirational leadership, Andrew and Cate turned around the STC’s finances and made it a sustainable business while taking it to new artistic heights.

”They are a couple not only of extraordinary talents and profile but they have a strong business sense and a strong financial rigour.”


Cate Blanchett to Rule The Stage As Cleopatra?

Having played Elizabeth I and JRR Tolkien’s elf queen Galadriel, Cate Blanchett is no stranger to royal roles. Now she could be set to tackle Shakespeare’s most famous queen, after workshopping Anthony and Cleopatra in Sydney with British director Declan Donnellan.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, a two-day workshop that was held last week could lead to a full-scale production, opening in Sydney towards the end of next year, before launching a European tour. The form would mirror that of Blanchett’s current stage appearance, Gross und Klein (Big and Small), which will receive its UK premiere at the Barbican in April.

Richard Roxburgh, best known as the oleaginous Duke in Baz Luhrman’s Moulin Rouge, took the role of Anthony for the workshops last Thursday and Friday at the Sydney Theatre Company (STC), of which Blanchett and her husband Andrew Upton have been co-artistic directors since 2007.

However, it has been speculated that the production could depend on the pair’s retiring from the company, where their three-year contract is up for renewal in November 2013, making Cleopatra Blanchett’s STC swansong.

Donnellan, who directed Othello for STC in 2004, organised the workshop with his regular designer Nick Ormerod. The pair are currently in Sydney with Cheek By Jowl’s production of ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore, which comes to the Barbican next month.

On Monday, Blanchett was named best actress at the Sydney Theatre awards for her performance in Gross und Klein. The production’s London run will be presented as part of the Cultural Olympiad, marking the Oscar-winner’s first performance for 13 years, when she played Susan in David Hare’s Plenty at the Almeida Theatre.

Four years earlier, she appeared at the Croydon Warehouse in a co-production with STC of Michael Gow’s Sweet Phoebe.


A Different Approach to the AACTA

The Samsung AACTA Awards are taking a different approach to their inaugural ceremony on January 31 at the Sydney Opera House, with president Geoffrey Rush running proceedings but not playing a traditional hosting role.

The AACTAs will be broadcast live on Channel 9 with Rush to be joined by presenters including Cate Blanchett, Jonathon LaPaglia, Rachael Taylor, Anthony LaPaglia, Xavier Samuel, Lincoln Lewis and Rob Carlton.

Carlton, who is nominated as best lead actor in a television drama for playing Kerry Packer in the ABC’s Paper Giants, yesterday told the Herald Sun he would fly by the seat of his pants in his presenting slot.

“Here’s my tactics: if you’re towards the end of the night and you don’t have comedy gold, you just get straight to it,” he said.

“If you’re in the middle of the night and things have been a little dry, you try to throw in an observation, so long as it’s not a complete U-turn.

“The key is to make sure you look like you’re having fun, so then if you bomb at least people can smile along with you as you’re falling down in front of them.”

Carlton admits he has tough competition in the best actor category from Alex Dimitriades, Don Hany and Jonathan LaPaglia. His co-star Asher Keddie, who played Ita Buttrose, is also nominated for best actress.

But far from dreaming of awards glory when he was making Paper Giants, Carlton said the role gave him nightmares.

“From the time I got cast to finishing the shoot, I would wake up and the first thought would be: terror, dread, Packer,” he said.

“I’d get home from shooting, last thought before bed: Packer. Then I’d dream about the bugger. Then wake up: dread, Packer.

“In the middle of that kind of anxiety, you do not start dreaming about how well it’s going to go.”

AACTA said Olivia Newton-John will perform during the ceremony, delivering a medley of songs from the soundtrack to her new Australian film A Few Best Men.

Other presenters who will hand out gongs at the new-look awards include Adam Elliot, Alex Dimitriades, Todd Lasance, Shane Bourne, Gigi Edgley, Blake Davis, Richard Wilkins, and Samara Weaving.