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Upton’s Riflemind kicks off international collaboration

First Published 8 August 2008, Last Updated 13 August 2008

Philip Seymour Hoffman is to direct John Hannah in Riflemind, a new play by Andrew Upton, at Trafalgar Studio 1 from 15 September (press night 18 September). The play marks the start of a new creative partnership between Trafalgar Studios and Sydney Theatre Company, of which Upton and his wife, actress Cate Blanchett, are Artistic Directors.

Riflemind, which premiered at Sydney Theatre Company in 2007, follows the members of an iconic rock band who are set for a reunion 20 years after frontman John walked off stage for good. For John, this might be his second chance; for his wife Lynn, it could be the end of the world as she knows it. As the band descends upon John’s country manor, one weekend fast becomes the ultimate test of talent, friendship and loyalty.

John Hannah plays John. The Scottish actor is best known for his screen work in films Four Weddings And A Funeral, Sliding Doors, The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Empire and the television series Rebus and New Street Law. His stage credits include The Mercy Seat at the Almeida and Miss Julie at the Young Vic.

The rest of the cast comprises Susan Prior, Steve Rodgers and Jeremy Sims, all of whom reprise their performances from the Australian premiere of the play, plus British actor Paul Hilton, who has worked extensively on the London stage, in productions including The Wild Duck at the Donmar Warehouse and Rosmersholm at the Almeida.

Director Hoffman is co-Artistic Director of LAByrinth Theater Company in New York, where his directing credits include Stephen Adly Guirgis’s The Last Days Of Judas Iscariot, In Arabia We’d All Be Kings and Jesus Hopped The ‘A’ Train, the last of which transferred to London’s Donmar Warehouse and was nominated for Best Play at the Laurence Olivier Awards 2003. Also an acclaimed actor, Hoffman has appeared frequently on Broadway and has screen credits including Charlie Wilson’s War, Along Came Polly, Almost Famous, The Talented Mr Ripley and Capote, for which he won both an Academy Award and a BAFTA.

Playwright Upton has written adaptations of Hedda Gabler, The Cherry Orchard, Cyrano De Bergerac and Don Juan for Sydney Theatre Company. He and wife Blanchett became the company’s co-Artistic Directors in January this year. Upton’s adaptation of Maxim Gorky’s Philistines ran at the National’s Lyttelton theatre in May 2007.

According to a press statement, this production of Riflemind launches a “new phase of international collaboration” between Trafalgar Studios and Sydney Theatre Company, which is to be made an Associate Company of the London venue in order that the two theatres may jointly develop new work.

CB

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