Although he is launching his last season as artistic director with Company B Belvoir, Neil Armfield says it’s too soon for farewells.
“I guess the fact that I won’t be doing it again adds a certain sweetness to it but also a nostalgic kind of…It’s like mortality. Because you know it’s ending you kind of treasure it more.”
Armfield’s final season reflects more than the usual concerns. It’s a mix of material that is “alive and forward looking”. It’s a bulging season of the new and the old in the hands of a raft of interesting and diverse directors including Benedict Andrews (Measure for Measure), Lee Lewis (That Face), Wesley Enoch (The Sapphires) and Wayne Blair (Namatjira).
The final show will be a return run of a classic - Gogol’s comic Diary of a Madman which will feature Tony winner, Geoffrey Rush, directed by Neil Armfield.
“We were keen to bring back a work which was key or symbolic and there was nothing more appropriate than Madman because it was the work that launched the wild theatricality that we have pursued at Company B. Also it was a particularly successful collaboration between Geoffrey and me. In its heady mixture of great humour and deep distress, it sort of marked the two poles of behavior or emotional connection which I think has been a bit of a hallmark of the work over the years.”
The season will also feature new writing from Tom Holloway, Tommy Murphy and David Hare’s new play. It seems that despite a few knocks the “well made play” is still about.
“I think it’s what we are always searching for. There was a point in preparing for this season that I looked up and reached for Ibsen. I put it back and found what were, for me, more interesting works but, what with Polly Stenham, David Hare and Tom Holloway’s plays, I think the well made play is alive and well.”
Armfield has rushed up from the Sydney Opera House where he is working with Opera Australia on the 2010 world premier of Bliss – an operatic adaptation of Peter Carey’s novel of the same name. It’s an indication of future directions. He’s got “…a bit of opera lined up in America and in Canada and Wales, but I’ll still be working in Leichhardt. I’d love to do some more film. Candy was a particularly deep and difficult pleasure and I’m very proud of it. I’d love to do some more.”
Despite the many offers from The States, Armfield is cagey about what he’d like to do next with film: “Stuff gets suggested, particularly from America, all the time. I always felt that you have to mine your own back yard, to really connect with your own heart somehow, so, however it falls it will somehow be Australian.”
For further details on the Combany B Belvoir 2010 season, visit: www.belvoir.com.au