MTC-Kate-Mulvany-in-Bernhardt-HamletIn her directorial debut as Melbourne Theatre Company’s Artistic Director, Anne-Louise Sarks brings together two prolific women of theatre – dual-Helpmann Award-winner Kate Mulvany (The Twelve) starring as Sarah Bernhardt in Theresa Rebeck’s brilliant comedy Bernhardt/Hamlet, opening tonight at the Southbank Theatre.

This real-life story gives a behind-the-scenes look at one of the most audacious actors to ever grace the stage, Sarah Bernhardt (1844–1923). A trailblazer, theatre-maker, muse and exotic pet collector, she captivated the world with her scandalous escapades and established herself as the world’s first celebrity.

Unsatisfied with the same old ingénue roles that made her famous, Sarah needs a new challenge and sets her sights on the role worthy of the greatest actress of the century – Hamlet. A timeless exploration of gender and equality, Bernhardt/Hamlet promises to be a witty celebration of a pivotal moment in theatre history.

Bernhardt/Hamlet sees Anne-Louise Sarks reunite with her long-time collaborator Kate Mulvany. Their previous collaborations include The Seed, Jasper Jones and the award-winning adaptation of Medea, which has received worldwide acclaim.

Kate Mulvany leads an ensemble cast of ten featuring Marco Chiappi (A View from the Bridge), Tahlee Fereday (Because The Night), John Leary (The Newsreader), William McKenna (Admissions), Dushan Philips (Stay Woke), Sahil Saluja (Bighouse Dreaming), Tim Walter (As You Like It), Charles Wu (Torch the Place) and Izabella Yena (Sexual Misconduct of the Middle Classes).

Setting the scene in Paris, 1899, audiences will be able to experience a peek into theatre backstage, behind the stage curtains and in the dressing rooms in this large-scale production.

The play features a rich, extravagant set and costumes from Set & Costume Designer Marg Horwell who won the Sydney Theatre Award in Best Stage Design for The Picture of Dorian Gray.

“I made my professional directorial debut with The Seed, written by Kate Mulvany at Melbourne Theatre Company,” said Anne-Louise Sarks. “It feels very fitting that the first show I’ll be directing this season is another collaboration with Kate. I couldn’t think of a better suited actor to play this bold and daring pioneer of theatre.”

Bernhardt/Hamlet is a playful examination of a familiar subject; a woman pushing the boundaries and society’s expectations. Sarah Bernhardt was unconventional, audacious and larger-than-life and she decided to turn Shakespeare and her society on its head by taking on the role of Hamlet. This is a timely comedy about challenging theatre – the way we make it and the stories we tell.”

“I can’t wait for audiences to experience the extraordinary artistry in this production and the magic of all the elements coming together on the stage. It is truly a play for theatre lovers,” said Sarks.

“Sarah Bernhardt was the most famous actress of her era and an absolute game changer. This fearless woman was so ahead of her time she had to wait for the rest of the world to catch up with her and that time is now,” said Kate Mulvany.

“The play is really about her pulling apart a system, one that still exists today, reminding ourselves of how far we’ve come and how far we have to go.”

“I’m thrilled to be working together again with Anne-Louise Sarks and continuing our collaboration. I absolutely adore Anne-Louise’s curiosity and joy when it comes to storytelling and she has assembled an incredible team of artists for what is sure to be a rich, clever and funny night in the theatre,” said Mulvany.

Director: Anne-Louise Sarks | Featuring: Marco Chiappi, Tahlee Fereday, John Leary, William McKenna, Kate Mulvany, Dushan Philips, Sahil Saluja, Tim Walter, Charles Wu, Izabella Yena | Set & Costume Designer: Marg Horwell | Lighting Designer: Amelia Lever-Davidson | Composer & Sound Designer: Joe Paradise Lui | Movement & Fight Director: Nigel Poulton | Voice & Text Coach: Geraldine Cook-Dafner, Amy Hume | Associate Set Designer: Jacob Battista | Costume Associate: Sophie Woodward | Assistant Director: Tasnim Hossain | Intimacy Coordinator: Amy Cater

The Sumner – Southbank Theatre, Southbank Boulevard, Southbank
Season: 8 March – 15 April 2023
Information and Bookings:

Image: Kate Mulvany – courtesy of MTC