Archive: Kip Williams

Date posted: 3 Aug 2016Author: STC Production: The Harp in the South: Part One & Part Two, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, A Cheery Soul, Chimerica, Cloud Nine, Three Sisters, A Midsummer Night's Dream

Kip Williams at STC. Photo by James Green
Kip Williams

Our Artistic Director Kip Williams has been a core part of Sydney Theatre Company for several years – starting as Directing Associate in 2012, then as Resident Director from 2013 and as Artistic Director since 2016.

After studying directing at NIDA, Kip's first work with STC was as an Assistant Director to Andrew Upton on The White Guard in 2011, returning later that year to assist on Loot and Gross und Klein as well. When Andrew Upton had to withdraw from directing Under Milk Wood (2012), Kip was asked to step into the breach, giving him his first experience of directing for the company.

Since then Kip has directed several award-winning productions for STC including Tennessee Williams' classics Suddenly Last Summer and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Bertol Brecht's The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui and Kate Mulvaney's adaptation of Ruth Park's classic Australian novels, The Harp in the South trilogy. In 2020, Kip turns his focus to a wicked new adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Gray, and an explosive take on Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge. 

Here, we take a look back at all the productions he has brough to life for STC audiences... 




Kip's first time as director at STC was on Dylan Thomas' Under Milk Wood. Originally written as a radio drama, the play is set in a fictional Welsh fishing village and brings to life its various inhabitants.

The cast featured Paula Arundell, Ky Baldwin, Alex Chorley, Drew Forsythe, Cameron Goodall, Sandy Gore, Alan John, Drew Livingston, Bruce Spence, Jack Thompson and Helen Thomson. (Photos: Heidrun Löhr)



In his first production as Resident Director, Kip tackled the star-crossed lovers of Shakespeare's great tragedy, rethinking the play to focus more on Juliet's journey and her final, fatal choice.

With a revolving set designed by David Fleischer, the cast featured Eryn Jean Norvill as Juliet and Dylan Young as Romeo, along with others including Anna Lise Phillips and Mitchell Butel pictured below. (Photos: Lisa Tomasetti and Grant Sparks-Carroll)


MACBETH (2014)

In Macbeth, Kip continued his Shakespearean exploration with Hugo Weaving in the title role. Alongside Hugo, the cast included Paula Arundell, Kate Box, Ivan Donato, Eden Falk, John Gaden, Melita Jurisic and Robert Menzies. (Photos: Brett Boardman) 



Later in 2014, Kip directed Andrew Upton's adaptation of Children of the Sun by Maxim Gorky. Dropping us into early-20th-century Russia – a country on the verge of revolution – the play is set amongst the privileged, intellectual, rather dysfunctional Protasov family who are largely oblivious to the upheaval around them.

The cast for Children of the Sun included Valerie Bader, James Bell, Justine Clarke, Yure Covich, Jay Laga'aia, Jacqueline McKenzie, Hamish Michael, Julia Ohannessian, Chris Ryan, Helen Thomson, Contessa Treffone and Toby Truslove. (Photos: Brett Boardman) 



Kip's production of Tennessee Williams' Suddenly Last Summer won him a Helpmann Award for Best Direction. The design, by Alice Babidge, featured a large white wall that live video feeds were projected onto. Watch Kip discussing the use of video in the interview below…



The cast included Paula Arundell, Melita Jurisic, Robyn Nevin, Eryn Jean Norvill, Susan Prior and Mark Leonard Winter. (Photos: Brett Boardman)



Caryl Churchill's Love and Information is a unique text. Offering theatre makers a remarkable level of freedom, Churchill fashioned 76 scenes across several different sections with only a few guiding principles about how each scene should be played, whether it needs to be included and in which order.

David Fleischer's design was transformed countless times by a cast that included Marco Chiappi, Harry Greenwood, Glenn Hazeldine, Anita Hegh, Zahra Newman, Anthony Taufa, Alison Whyte and Ursula Yovich. (Photos: Pia Johnson)



Louis Nowra's neglected Australian classic, The Golden Age, kicked off 2016 for STC. Kip's production in Wharf 1 Theatre featured another striking design by David Fleischer – a mound of dirt that became worn down, wrestled in and topped by various props as this sprawling epic took shape. 

In the cast were Rarriwuy Hick, Remy Hii, Brandon McClelland, Robert Menzies, Liam Nunan, Zindzi Okenyo, Sarah Peirse, Anthony Taufa and Ursula Yovich. (Photos: Lisa Tomasetti)


ALL MY SONS (2016)

Kip's second production for 2016 was Arthur Miller's All My Sons. Set in middle America in the wake of the Second World War, the play examines a family slowly tearing itself apart with secrets and lies. Kip discussed his production at our Matinee Club for the show, which is available now as a podcast on iTunes, or you can stream it below.

Following on from Suddenly Last Summer, another mid-20th-century American play, Kip reunited with designer Alice Babidge and actors Eryn Jean Norvill and Robyn Nevin. Others in the cast included John Howard, Bert LaBonte, Josh McConville and Chris Ryan. (Photos: Zan Wimberley)



Kip's final production in 2016 was A Midsummer Night's Dream, in which he stripped away the saccharine varnish that has too-often been applied to the play to reveal the text's depth and darkness.

Robert Menzies as Oberon and Paula Arundell as Titania (Photo: Brett Boardman)
Emma Harvie as Cobweb (Photo: Brett Boardman)
Josh McConville, Rahel Romahn and Bruce Spence as Bottom, Snug and Snout (Photo: Brett Boardman)
Matthew Backer as Puck (Photo: Brett Boardman)



Lucy Kirkwood's play was given a sweeping production by Kip. The play's theme of 'people power' was made manifest with 32 performers on stage, creating a wealth of characters, places and scene transitions. The play took us from Tiananmen Square in 1989 to New York at the time of Obama's re-election and back again. 

Jenny Wu and Charles Wu (Photo: Brett Boardman)
The cast of Chimerica (Photo: Brett Boardman)



Next, Kip returned to playwright Caryl Churchill with one of her earlier classics, Cloud Nine. The play famously features two distinctly different halves, beginning in Victorian-era Africa and ending in London a century later, though the characters have aged only 25 years. Gender-swapped casting, actors switching roles and the jump in time helps tell several stories about sexual discovery, identity and gender. Elizabeth Gadsby's set used a dirt floor in the first half that sprouted grass during interval.

Matthew Backer, Heather Mitchell, Harry Greenwood, Anita Hegh and Anthony Taufa. (Photo: Daniel Boud)
Anita Hegh, Kate Box and Harry Greenwood (Photo: Daniel Boud)
Heather Mitchell and Matthew Backer (Photo: Daniel Boud)


An adaptation on the famous Anton Chekhov play by ex-Artistic Director Andrew Upton, Three Sisters was Kip's third STC production for 2017. Reuniting with Designer Alice Babidge and Lighting Designer Nick Schlieper, Kip and a 14-strong cast created a compelling and modern take on the Russian classic.

Charles Wu and Callan Colley (Photo: Brett Boardman)
Nikki Shiels (Photo: Brett Boardman)


Written in 1941 as a cautionary satire on the rise of Hitler, Bertolt Brecht’s play was heavily loaded with contemporary relevance when Kip brought it to the STC stage in 2018. Recontextualised to highlight Sydney's own corrupt forces, the production featured clever camera-work and strong ensemble performances, including Hugo Weaving's Helpmann Award-winning portrayal of the sinister Ui. 

Charles Wu, Ursula Yovich, Colin Moody, Hugo Weaving and Peter Carroll. (Photo: Daniel Boud)
Peter Carroll (Photo: Daniel Boud)


A mammoth undertaking by any standards, Kip directed an epic, two-part theatrical marathon, adapted for the stage by Kate Mulvaney from Ruth Park's classic Australian novels, The Harp in the South trilogy. Spanning several generations to tell the story of a Sydney that once was, Harp was a landmark production for STC, earning Kip a Sydney Theatre Award for Best Director and awards for Best Production and Best New Australian Work.

Cast assemble around a bonfire. (Photo: Daniel Boud)
Guy Simon and Rose Riley. (Photo: Daniel Boud)


For his final play for 2018 Kip tackled the deliciously eccentric A Cheery Soul, by Australia's only Nobel Laureate for literature, Patrick White. The infamous role of Miss Docker was played by Sarah Peirse, and she and Kip brought a more sympathetic view to the character which has been described as "a supreme theatrical monster". 

Brandon McClelland and Sarah Peirse (Photo: Daniel Boud)
Jay James-Moody, Bruce Spence, Tara Morice and Emma Harvie. (Photo: Daniel Boud)


Taking on another stellar script from the Tennessee Williams canon, Kip's first play for 2019 was the unashamedly dramatic, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. With Hugo Weaving and his son Harry Greenwood working together on stage for the first time as troubled father/son duo Big Daddy and Brick, it was a slick production with fierce impact, the stellar cast performances aided by bold lightind design from Nick Schlieper. 

Hugo Weaving and Harry Greenwood. (Photo: Daniel Boud)
Pamela Rabe and Harry Greenwood. (Photo: Daniel Boud)



For his second play of the year, Kip looked to another iconic piece of writing, this time from across the pond: William Golding's Lord of the Flies. Kip subverted the island of marooned boys with genderblind casting, putting together a diverse and talented ensemble including Mia Wasikowska, Nyx Calder and Daniel Monks. Through unique staging and dynamic lighting, the production took this timeless fable to brilliant, unsettling new heights. 


Mia Wasikowska (Photo: Zan Wimberley) 


Contessa Treffone and Daniel Monk (Photo: Zan Wimberley) 


The Picture of Dorian Gray, 21 Jul – 16 Aug, Roslyn Packer Theatre

A View from the Bridge, 8 Dec – 16 Jan, Roslyn Packer Theatre

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