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Riflemind collaboration sets tone for Trafalgar Studios

Published 15 September 2008

The association between Ambassador Theatre Group, Sydney Theatre Company and LAByrinth Theater Company, which begins with Riflemind, will play a large role in creating a distinct reputation for the Trafalgar Studios, it was announced today.

Speaking at the launch of the project, Tali Pelman, Associate Producer for the Trafalgar Studios said: “What we want to do is get to a point where Trafalgar Studios as a building has an identity and a personality that you much more often find in the subsidised sector, while still being on the West End and still upholding those values of excellence. It’s really about trying to have a meeting between those worlds; taking the risks that may be more associated with the subsidised sector, but doing it in the West End to ensure that this work still happens in the West End, because increasingly new plays are just seen as too much of a risk.”

At today’s press conference, Pelman was joined by Sydney Theatre Company’s (STC) Artistic Directors Andrew Upton and Cate Blanchett, New York-based LAByrinth Theater Company’s Philip Seymour Hoffman and John Gould Rubin, and Ambassador Theatre Group’s (ATG) Chief Executive Howard Panter, who shared their thoughts on how the association between the three international theatrical powerhouses would evolve for the benefit of all three companies.

At the heart of the connection is development of new work. LAByrinth, a collective of more than 100 artists, has a reputation for focusing on the development of work, which does not always lead to a full production. ATG has already committed to working with the New York company on the development of new piece Philip Roth In Khartoum, while Pelman will be attending LAByrinth’s autumn play readings to explore the possibilities of taking any of these ideas further.

Panter described the association between the three as “not a monogamous relationship, but a special relationship,” indicating that though the companies continue to work together, they will also be building other links. Panter is, himself, working to bring another Australian production, Company B’s production of Toy Symphony, to London, while STC is mooted to be planning work with another London theatre.

The connection between the three companies actually began in the late 1990s, when Blanchett and Hoffman, both better known for their film roles than as Artistic Directors, met on the set of The Talented Mr Ripley. The triumvirate was completed when Panter saw the STC production of Riflemind last year, while opening the Rocky Horror Show in Australia.

London theatregoers hoping to see Riflemind director Hoffman or Blanchett on the stage in the near future may be disappointed, as neither spoke of any concrete plans. Hoffman, in fact, ruled it out altogether: “To do a run of a play, you’re talking at least six months, and so it’s almost impossible. I’m about to have my third child and I can’t leave my home for that long period of time.”

While there are no definite future plans for the partnership in London, Elling, which was produced at the Trafalgar Studios last year, opens in Sydney in 2009.

The press launch came on the eve of Riflemind’s first preview. Written by Upton and starring John Hannah, the play tells of a rock band’s reunion two decades after its lead singer walked off stage for good. It opens later this week and runs until 3 January.

MA

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