Wayne Blair

Wayne BlairWayne Blair is the recently appointed Artistic Associate of Belvoir St Theatre - what that means, he says, he’s not exactly sure - but he’s got an office.

Blair’s contribution to theatre and film in Australia is nothing short of impressive, from his acclaimed portrayal of Othello for Bell Shakespeare Company to his short film “Djarns Djarns” and everything in between, he continues to find the sweetness and soul in sad stories.

In an exciting swirl of interviews Blair stands strong amid the crowd of arts journalists: standing solidly in front of a camera, being interviewed for TV and photographed for press, as though this friendly interrogation is the most natural of all aspects of directing… and for Wayne Blair, perhaps it is: he certainly makes it appear to be.

There’s a strong buzz about B-Sharp’s opening show - a buzz that says “Blair’s directing Brendan’s Cowell’s new play!” It’s called Ruben Guthrie and if the scenes selected as a mini preview are anything to go by, there’s lots to think and re-think about drinking in the creative industries and its certain to be an interesting adventure… and the blurb goes something like this:

“Ruben Guthrie is on fire. At only 29, he is Creative Director of a cutting edge advertising agency, lives with his Czech supermodel fiancé and drinks like he invented it. Ruben seems invincible, until one fated evening when he drinks so much vodka he thinks he can fly. Before Ruben knows it his fiancé has left him, his Mum is escorting him to AA meetings and his bottomless schooner of confidence has all but drained away. For the first time in his life… Ruben Guthrie is alone.”

In the Sydney Morning Herald article April 3rd Toby Schmitz, who plays the title role of Ruben states: “Our industry has no office. It has no meeting place other than the foyer and the bar, which is hard for the ginger ale drinker. I've been cast in plays, sealed deals, over a glass." It seems that the formulation of this production came from such a foyer experience: a few conversations and a few beers at the pub.

I asked Wayne how he came across Brendan Cowell’s newest work: “It wasn’t an email or a fax or a memo,” he said, it was “just Neil [Armfield] going 'oh, have a look at this, I think you might like it'.” And as far as finding the actor to play Ruben goes, this seems to ring true: “at the right place at the right time, [casting is] a bit about instinct and impulse and when the stars are in alignment... so Toby and I had a beer and the stars aligned.”

It’s easy talking to Wayne Blair. We sat on the leather couches in the Belvoir St Theatre foyer and chatted about the play and about his reflections on the subject of drinking and excessive lifestyles. And more than anything he’s honest. I asked him how this play reflects and fits into his life. “I relate to a lot of it big time…” In Blair’s steady way, he philosophizes on the themes, not that he’s a “sadistic person”, he assures me, but says “I liked the sadness, I like the grief and I liked him being alone.”

Ruben Guthrie is the second Murri fulla films production in the Belvoir St Downstairs Theatre in the last year, which follows the September 2007 production of “Jesus Hopped the A-train” (also Produced by the unstoppable Sam Hawker). And Wayne Blair seems at home here, in the role of Artistic Associate, who has an office…

The first 10 days or so have already sold out - a fantastic sign for the start of Ruben Guthrie’s run. Be sure to grab a ticket on what promises to be a bright start to B Sharp’s 2008 Season.



Ruben Guthrie is now playing and runs until May 11. For further information click here»

Related Articles

The Point of 'The Pillowman'?
The Company B production of Martin McDonagh's highly acclaimed, The Pillowman opens next month. Director Craig Ilott spoke to Australian Stage's Brett Casben. It seems to be a question...

Most read features

Zuleika Khan

Welcome to the first in a series of interviews, Artists in Isolation, our first guest is cabaret superstar and front-line worker Zuleika Khan who shares her experiences as a theatre maker stuck in isolation and a nurse protecting the community.

Kearna Philpott

This week, Heather Bloom chats to professional dancer, Kearna Philpott who was on board the RCCL Spectrum of the Seas when the pandemic began.

Jake Matricardi

This week Heather Bloom chats to Jake Matricardi, an usher for the Marriner Group on his thoughts on the COVID-19 pandemic and the crisis unfolding in the theatre world.

Petra Kalive

After five years as Artistic Director of Union House Theatre, Petra Kalive joined Australia’s oldest professional theatre company in early 2020 having previously directed BeachedMelbourne Talam and Hungry Ghosts for the Company.

James Zala

As we continue our series investigating how artists and the arts industry is coping throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I travel (virtually of course) to the UK and speak with Flying Director James Zala from Flying by Foy.

Most read news

Cirque du Soleil postpones Melbourne performances

Cirque du Soleil has decided to postpone Melbourne performances of its show KURIOS until 15 April, 2020

Adelaide Festival Centre COVID-19 update

Following the declaration of a Public Health Emergency in South Australia, Adelaide Festival Centre venues will close to the public and all performances will be suspended from midnight until the 30th of April.

Theatre Works to Close Until May

In response to the unfolding health situation, Theatre Works have made the difficult but necessary decision to temporarily close our venue until 1 May.

Melbourne International Jazz Festival 2020 cancelled

Scheduled to be programmed this winter, the Melbourne International Jazz Festival (MIJF) in its current form will be cancelled in response to ongoing developments regarding the threat of COVID-19.

Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour cancelled

Opera Australia has regretfully cancelled the upcoming Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour, La Traviata, in line with the government ban on static public gatherings of more than 500 people to try to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Sign up for our newsletter

* indicates required