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Sydney Theatre Company Unveil Andrew Upton's Last Season As Artistic Director

3 September 2015 | 7:30 pm | Staff Writer

Everything he ever wanted to program

The Sydney Theatre Company 2016 season has been unveiled tonight, and features the likes of Rose Byrne, Lisa McCune and John Howard.

Outgoing Artistic Director Andrew Upton said his last season was an opportunity to program some of his favourite playwrights who he had never programmed as STC AD before, including Arthur Miller and Louis Nowra, as well as well as old favourites like Sue Smith and the inimitable Tom Stoppard.

"This, my last program for the Company, fills me with huge excitement - if a little tinged with melancholy."

Of the transition to Brit Jonathan Church as AD in 2016, Upton said: "I think inheriting and overseeing [this program] will be an opportunity for him to get to know the Company and our audience cross its full range. He'll work with some of our great writers, directors and actors."

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Opening the 2016 season will be The Golden Age by Nowra, 14 January - 20 February at Wharf 1 Theatre. STC Resident Director Kip Williams takes on the story of the 'discovery' of an isolated mid-19th-century community, descended from escaped convicts. The cast features Sarah Peirse, fresh from this year's Endgame.

The Secret River (left) returns to the STC stage following successful stagings in Sydney, Perth and Canberra in 2013, and a TV mini-series adaptation on ABC in 2015. With director Neil Armfield back at the helm, the play by Andrew Bovell, based on Kate Grenville's novel, about a white man attempting to settle on Indigenous land will illuminate some brutal truths about Australian race relations in the past and the present. 1 - 20 February, Roslyn Packer Theatre.

Upton's put on three Tom Stoppard plays during his tenure as AD, Travesties in 2009, Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead in 2013, and now Arcadia, 8 February - 2 April, Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House. This adaptation features Ryan Corr, most recently seen tearing at heartstrings in Sydney Film Festival Closing Night film Holding The Man.

McCune (right) returns to STC for the first time in 10 years for Machu Picchu, 3 March - 9 April, Wharf 1 Theatre, in a new Australian play by Sue Smith. Smith again collaborates with director Geordie Brookman following Kryptonite in 2014 to explore long-term relationships and the realities of reaching mid-life. The co-production with State Theatre Company Of South Australia will then tour to Adelaide.

British theatre company 1927 produce Golem (below) at Roslyn Packer Theatre, 16 - 26 March, a Terry Gilliam-esque mix-up of live music, performance, storytelling, film and animation, described as "a giant graphic novel come to life". The production, which toured Europe, was described by the Times as "Frankenstein for the 21st century", a piece of mechanical folklore.

King Charles III by Mike Bartlett comes straight from a Broadway run to the Roslyn Packer Theatre, 31 March - 30 April. The 2015 Olivier Award winner for Best Play puts the Shakespearean tragedy into 21st-century British royalty, with Prince Charles on the throne, and having to contend with the ghost of Princess Di, and conniving heirs to the throne, Wills and Kate.

Beloved comedy Hay Fever by Noel Coward is directed by Imara Savage and features Heather Mitchell, Helen Thomson, Genevieve Lemon, Josh McConville and Harriet Dyer spicing up a family weekend with the addition of four potential love interests, and the potential for some very bad manners, 11 April-21 May, Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House.

Before touring to Wollongong, Parramatta and Canberra, Pulitzer Prize winner Disgraced by Ayad Akhtar makes its Australian premiere, under the directorship of STC Resident Director Sarah Goodes, 16 April - 4 June, Wharf 1 Theatre. The play explores prejudice, race, and religion, as a lawyer and his wife host a dinner party that turns into something altogether uncivil.

Arthur Miller's All My Sons (right) is brought to life by the sturdy hands of Howard and Robyn Nevin, under the watchful eye of director Kip Williams. It's 20th-century drama stripped back to its bare bones, exploring the underbelly of the American dream, 4 June - 9 July, Roslyn Packer Theatre.

In a Sydney Theatre Company commission from 2014 Patrick White Fellow Angela Betzien comes The Hanging, starring Puberty Blues' Ashleigh Cummings (left). Three teenage girls studying Picnic At Hanging Rock disappear, and their Lemon and Luke Carroll attempt to figure out why. Directed by Goodes, Wharf 1 Theatre, 28 July - 10 September.

Williams does something a little bit different with A Midsummer Night's Dream, with this production featuring a little bit of nudity as it explores sexual liberation and exploration for four young people. 12 September - 22 October, Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House.

Power Plays is a collection of 20-minute plays from five female playwrights - some making their debut, others STC veterans - starring five actors, all under the theme of 'power'. The tasting plate is directed by Paige Rattray, Richard Wherett Fellow, 17 September - 15 October, Wharf 2 Theatre.

A Flea In Her Ear is Upton's last adaptation as Artistic Director, following this year's standout The Present, taking Georges Feydeau and making it 'Uptonian', with help from director Simon Phillips, and a cast including Helen Christinson and David Woods, as a man with performance issues who has his fidelity tested. 31 October - 17 December, Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House.

The last main-stage production is directed by Upton himself, Speed-The-Plow by David Mamet, 8 November - 10 December, Roslyn Packer Theare, and stars Byrne (right), returning to STC for the first time since 2001, and Lachy Hulme in a fast-paced satire about the cutthroat nature of Hollywood, and the tension between commercial and artistic interest.

The season also offers a family-friendly show written and directed by Declan Greene of Sisters Grimm and performed by The Listies, The Tragedy Of Hamlet: Prince Of Skidmark, A Badaptation Of The Bard, 16 June - 17 July, Wharf 1 Theatre; and the annual political send-up The Wharf Revue from Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe and Phillip Scott, 19 October - 23 December, Wharf 1 Theatre.

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