Australian stage and screen legend Richard Roxburgh returns to Sydney Theatre Company stage this week to play enigmatic sorcerer Prospero alongside a fabulous ensemble cast in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, directed by STC’s Artistic Director Kip Williams.
As a terrible storm blows up and engulfs the sky, a crew of sailors and their entourage are shipwrecked in remote climes. Washing ashore, they discover a lonely island ruled by the powerful and enigmatic sorcerer Prospero (Roxburgh).
Along with the island’s supernatural inhabitants and his daughter Miranda, Prospero seeks retribution for something that was stolen from him years prior.
Roxburgh will be joined onstage at the Roslyn Packer Theatre by Peter Carroll (The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui), Jason Chong (Chimerica), Mandy McElhinney (Appropriate), Chantelle Jamieson (Home, I’m Darling) Shiv Palekar (The Beauty Queen of Leenane), Guy Simon (Grand Horizons), Aaron Tsindos (No Pay? No Way!), Megan Wilding (Blithe Spirit), Susie Youssef (Accidental Death of an Anarchist), as well as Claude Scott-Mitchell (The Dry) as Miranda in her STC debut.
With set designed by Jacob Nash (Wonnangatta), costumes designed by Elizabeth Gadsby (Julius Caesar), lights by Nick Schlieper (The Picture of Dorian Gray), sound and composition by Stefan Gregory (Julius Caesar) and dramaturgy by STC Resident Director Shari Sebbens, this staging of the classic text will interrogate concepts of colonialism, legacy and our relationship to nature.
Williams said he’s looking forward to directing such an epic ensemble piece. “There’s a lot of discrepancy about whether this play is a comedy or tragedy because it exemplifies the best of what Shakespeare offers across both genres,” said Williams. “This production will delve deep into the narrative of power, mortality and our relationship to nature. It’s a dense philosophical work.”
Roxburgh said it was “equal parts scary and exhilarating” to be returning to the stage and that he loves The Tempest – often thought of as the Bard’s final play – because you “can tell it’s an older man’s work – it’s Shakespeare as a self-funded retiree with all of his accrued knowledge and wisdom.”
“I always think of the theatre as my home, because it’s where I started,” Roxburgh said. “It’s so much part of my life that I feel strange when I don’t do it for a long period of time. Shakespeare is perpetually relevant because he deals with all the corners of the human condition.”
“Our struggles with power, with meaning, with the material world and our relationship to nature. There’s also the complex matter of colonisation and Indigenous ownership, which is incredibly relevant.”
Set Designer Jacob Nash said his vision for the show is heavily centred on nature and the elements. “This production will evoke questions and conversations about man’s power over land and the people on it,” Nash said.
“We want to talk about that relationship and examine how that power can be relinquished and what that means for all involved. No one escapes, but the constant, silent figure in all of this is the land, bearing witness to all. It is the timekeeper, the equaliser.
Don’t miss your chance to see Richard Roxburgh on stage for the first time in years to play one of theatre’s greatest roles in this deeply moving reflection on life, love, and what it means to let go.
Director: Kip Williams | Featuring: Peter Carroll, Jason Chong, Chantelle Jamieson, Mandy McElhinney, Shiv Palekar, Richard Roxburgh, Guy Simon, Aaron Tsindos, Claude Scott-Mitchell, Megan Wilding, Susie Youssef | Understudies: Danielle King, Ian Michael, Nicole Milinkovic | Set Designer: Jacob Nash | Costume Designer: Elizabeth Gadsby | Lighting Designer: Nick Schlieper | Composer & Sound Designer: Stefan Gregory | Associate Director: Jessica Arthur | Dramaturg: Shari Sebbens
Roslyn Packer Theatre, 22 Hickson Road, Walsh Bay (Sydney)
Season: 21 November – 17 December 2022 (previews: 15 – 18 November)
Information and Bookings: www.sydneytheatre.com.au
Image: Richard Roxburgh stars as Prospero in The Tempest – photo by Rene Vaile