Waiting For Godot to be Reprised in London, Hugo Weaving in Talks To Star In Bird Eclipse

STC’s Waiting for Godot To Be Staged In London At Barbican

Have been meaning to update for awhile, but was waiting for official confirmation on one item; also have the usual Life Complications to juggle. But I have updated the Hugponuts Hugo Weaving Photo Archive and added new scans at Flickr, and will add more shortly.

Hugo Weaving and Richard Roxburgh in the November 2013 Sydney production    Photo: Lisa Tomasetti

Our Sydney correspondent Yvette has been hinting for some time that Sydney Theatre Co’s Waiting For Godot, starring Hugo Weaving and Richard Roxburgh, might tour next year, possibly in multiple locations. She received this intel directly from the actors, and Hugo himself confirmed a London engagement for next year… but Yvette also asked me to keep quiet about this for obvious reasons until STC officially announced it. that engagement at London’s famed Barbican, is now officially confirmed for next June (June 4-13 to be exact.) Rather frustratingly, tickets went on sale to the venue’s members immediately once the announcement was made, and will be exclusive to those members until September 22, when tickets are made available to the general public. This lack of lag time between announcement and ticket sales flustered many fans who live outside London, as travel logistics often take a lot of time and expense. (Kennedy Center and Brooklyn Academy of Music usually leave a generous gap between schedule announcements and sales, though they also engage in annoying elitist “membership” gouging… though I’ve humored them to get good seats.) Given the attention and enthusiasm the announcement has generated online, a membership might not be a bad idea if you’re already thinking of springing for prime seats. Barbican’s ticket prices are actually quite reasonable, so it’s not as much of a hardship as some high-end New York venues.  I’m also impressed that front-row seats– which tend to balance desired proximity with a somewhat obstructed view in many venues– are discounted at the Barbican compared to their highest-priced seats. Kennedy Center and Lincoln Center charge top dollar for these, and KenCen’s stage is high enough that the stage and actors are partly blocked to your side of the stage.

Anyhow, here are more specifics: the full Sydney cast, which also includes Philip Quast and Luke Mullins, will be reprising their roles in London. The production is part of the Barbican’s International Beckett Season. You can buy tickets (and memberships, if you want to hedge your bets and get seats right away) directly from the Barbican.  Alas, there is no word of any additional international tour for the play, and dates in Dublin had to be canceled to the actors’ complicated schedules. Also no word of filming or simulcasting the London production. London is probably out of the cards for me, much as I’d love to go there for any reason… air fares have quadrupled in the past five years. Airfare alone would probably cost close to $1,000 and London hotels have NEVER been cheap. But I don think this venue is deal for the production, and understand why the STC and actors gave it priority, particularly with the unique Becket Fest opportunity. I just hope there’s a US or even Canadian engagement at some point. I’m willing to wait as long as it takes. (Only a last-minute passport and accommodations issues prevented me from seeing Hugo’s films Mystery Road and Cloud Atlas. And STC has never taken a production to Toronto…) As far as US venues go, BAM would be most ideal of the venues STC has gone to previously, as their space is more intimate and they already have the “ancient decayed theatre” thing going already. 😉 But I know Hugo’s London fans have been owed the opportunity to see him onstage for some time (he was replaced by John Hannah in 2008’s reprisal of Riflemind, the only STC play he’d starred in to transfer to London.) There was also early gossip about taking the production to Boston, Washington or even China… absolutely no mention of any additional locations in the current report, and Hugo already has a busy year coming up. He’ll star in Endgame just before taking Godot to London, and will possibly film Bird Eclipse for Anand Gandhi (more on that later) early in the year. Also, there might be promotional responsibilities for Strangerland, and he has another film with Glendyn Ivin penciled in, though not yet green-lighted.

STC posted about the London engagement of Waiting for Godot in their online magazine, where they shared a brand new trailer (which, strangely, never appeared for the Sydney engagement last year.) It’s great, giving you an indication of the feel of the play without too much plot or dialogue explication:

You can also read about Godot’s tour plans (and sample great photos and review quotes from the Sydney production) at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Herald Sun, The Australian, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail, Official London Theatre, TheStage.co.uk, and Stage Whispers. You can view a full gallery of Lisa Tomasetti’s Sydney Godot photos over at the Hugonuts Photo Archive.

Bird Eclipse

Though several Indian online papers actually broke this story (and I repeated it here) Screen Daily is claiming an “exclusive” on news that Hugo Weaving is indeed in talks to appear in director Anand Gandhi’s next film. This report did add a few new details, such as that the film’s prospective title is Bird Eclipse, and will costar Ship of Theseus star  Sohum Shah. Here are some plot and character details:

“Spanning three decades post World War II, Bird Eclipse follows the illegitimate son of a feudal family who is searching for treasure hidden under a dilapidated mansion guarded by a fallen god.

Weaving is being lined up to play the role of a dubious poppy-trading South African, who follows his friend to the house and is afflicted by a curse that makes him a sleeping immortal.

Gandhi met Weaving at the Sydney Film Festival in 2013 and the actor later presented the Australian theatrical release of Ship Of Theseus. They discussed working on a project together, which looks likely to be Bird Eclipse.”

Yes, this does sound vaguely similar to Cloud Atlas, but Gandhi’s Ship of Theseus was about a blind photographer… and was absolutely nothing like Hugo’s 1991 film Proof, though both should definitely be seen by Weaving fans and film fans in general. Also hope Gandhi’s able to give more dimension to Hugo’s “dubious” character than the Wachowskis gave his range of essentially one-note (if entertaning) villains in Cloud Atlas.  Bird Eclipse secured some international funding at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (where Hugo’s film Strangerland was also shopped, though not officially screened.) Rediff adds that Bird Eclipse is “expected to roll early next year and could be one of the high profile entries at next year’s TIFF. It may could cost $10 million.” No specifics on where the film will be shot, or in what language, though wouldn’t it be intruguing to see Hugo act in another language?

The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies

Though we’re still awaiting an official trailer for the final installment in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy (a teaser came out in July, bereft of any new Elrond footage), Warner Bros has released a new promo banner for The Battle of Five Armies, including confirmation that The White Council do indeed figure in the rescue of Gandalf from Dol Guldur.

WordPress readers: right-click, then click “open in a new tab” for full-sized version

IMO this gives away a few too many plot points, and [spoiler] character demise hints away, but it is beautifully rendered. Some fans are reading wayyyy too much into Gandalf and Galdriel’s positioning. There are no other new images of Elrond, but there have been some film stills released featuring Lee Pace (Thranduil), Luke Evans (Bard), Richard Armitage (Thorin) and others; you can view these at Moviepilot, The Heirs of Durin ( a comprehensive Thorin Oaknshield/Richard Armitage fansite), Hypable.com and, of course, theonering.net. The Expanded Edition DVD/Blu-Ray for The Desolation nof Smaug will be released November 4, with 25 extra minutes of footage… I’m waiting for theatrical releases of the first two films in advance of the third’s opening. They did that for Lord of the Rings. 😉 Battle of Five Armies will be released December 17.

Also, for those not spoiler-averse, there’s an amusing tidbit at TORN (quoting, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Chronicle, Cloak & Daggers in the Cartography, a TDOS tie-in volume) includng hints over which Dwarves might survive– or not survive– the titular battle.  Spoiler alert: Bombur DOES eventually get too fat to walk. 😉 And Anna Maskrey has concept drawings for her Hobbit costume designs at her website. Even a few from BOFA, though no Elrond yet.

In Other Hugo Weaving News

The Facebook page for Hugo’s film Healing recently featured some photos of the real-life prison rehab sites that inspired the film. Healing continues to screen at international festivals and second-run venues in Australia. Keep an eye on my Twitter feed for updates as they come in.

Manny Gets Censored– featuring Hugo’s narration– recently screened at the DC Shorts film festival (ongoing through September 21). You can watch the full selection of DC Shorts films online for $35 ($15 in DC area) but since they have an archive where you can stream all past years’ selections FREE, you might feel inclined to be patient. The online reviews of Many Gets Censored are mixed; Washington City Paper suggested it never gets past its one-joke premise, though BrightestYoungThings calls it “A highlight… A clever idea that gets sappy but not heavy handed. The editing is what makes this 8 minute romantic comedy stand out. I want to see more from these actors, the writer, editor and director. It kicks off Show 4 and you’ll remember it 7 shorts later.” I do want to see for myself (and would listen to Hugo read the phone book) but $35 for a 14-minute film seems steep.

Strangerland, costarring Nicole Kidman and Joseph fiennes, appears in Screen Australia’s TIFF brochure as a film in post-production, to rouse interest in international distribution.

The Mule has its next showcase at the BFI London Film Festival October 9, 12 and 18. It received largely positive notices during its recent run at Berlin’s Fantasy Film Fest, including these positive review from Film Futter and MellowDramatix. Healing and The Mule (how’s that for range?) are both eligible for Best Picture at the 2015 ACTAA Awards, according to Inside Film.

The most recent previews for the US release of Mystery Road (newvideo.com) encouragingly suggest that the film’s running time is the full 121 minutes rather than the severely-edited “95 minutes” noted in other early reports. The film is out on DVD/streaming in the US October 14; no word yet on where/whether any theatrical release will happen. The UK theatrical release continues to receive positive notices, including well-written reviews at Magic Rat, Global Film Studies.

Macbeth continues to draw sell-out crowds and positive reviews. The latest: A Tennessee Girl In Oz. Alice Babidge, who designed Macbeth’s costumes and production, gets the loving retrospective treatment from STC’s Magazine. (She also designed The Maids, starring Cate Blanchett and Isabelle Huppert, which was reprised in New York this summer.)

Archive Updates

New galleries at Hugonuts Photo Archive:

The Turning MIFF Premiere
The Turning Stills, Caps & Promos
The Turning Behind The Scenes
The Turning Sydney Premiere
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Wellington Premiere
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Stills and Caps
The Hobbit Behind The Scenes
Cloud Atlas Beijing Premiere
STC 2015 Season Announcement (including full set of James Croucher pics, see below)
Healing Stills Caps & Promos
Healing Behind The Scenes
2013 Waiting For Godot Production Photos
Waiting For Godot Fan Photos
Hugo Attends Performance of Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (2013)
Endgame Promotional Images

L to R: Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Andrew Upton, Susie Porter, Jacqueline Mackenzie, 4 September  Photo: James Croucher/The Australian/Newspix

Our Sydney correspondent Yvette has sent in some lovely newspaper clippings detailing the STC 2015 Season Announcement, which I’ve scaned for the Flickr Archive:

Sydney Morning Herald Spectrum (Geoffrey Rush cover, page 1, page 2) Includes a promo photo of Hugo’s Endgame
Sydney Morning Herald STC Preview
The Australian STC Preview


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