Last week’s opening by the Sydney Theatre Company of The Present was a high water mark in its history. Adapted from Chekhov by the Artistic Director, Andrew Upton with a starry cast led by Cate Blanchett, the production was a splendid reminder that an era is ending. The real estate columns tells us their house is for sale prior to their moving to the US, so this stage of their contribution to STC and Australian theatre is complete. It has been an outstanding success. But what next for the STC?
The Board has engaged an executive search firm to identify a new artistic director. It’s a great job for someone but finding that someone isn’t easy. Having no current inside knowledge and amid increasing speculation, I can freely express some views about what, or rather whom, to look for. At its simplest, the artistic director’s job is to make two sets of decisions: what to do and who to do it. In other words, repertoire and personnel choices plus oversight of performance quality.
The right person could be from a number of theatrical disciplines: actor, writer, director, designer or other such as literary manager. Whatever the background, the person needs to be charismatic, imaginative and open minded, but also acutely conscious of the various audiences to whom the company must appeal. The company has no single audience but several, some of them partly overlapping. And the successful contender would probably find it harder were they not Australian. A sense of humour would help.
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