STC brings Chimerica, an epic geopolitical thriller, to the stage

Kip Williams’ first production since being appointed Artistic Director of Sydney Theatre Company is the epic, geopolitical thriller, Chimerica by Lucy Kirkwood, featuring a cast of 33 at Sydney's Roslyn Packer Theatre from 28 February until 1 April.

The cast for Chimerica includes Mark Leonard Winter (recipient of two 2016 Helpmann Awards for both Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor), Jason Chong (Netflix’ Marco Polo), Geraldine Hakewill (Seven’s Wanted), Charles Wu (Nine’s Doctor Doctor) and Brent Hill (Hayes’ Little Shop of Horrors).

Former STC Resident Designers David Fleischer and Renée Mulder are responsible for set and costumes respectively. Lighting design is by Nick Schlieper, directly following his success on Broadway with STC’s The Present.

At the centre of the Olivier-award-winning Chimerica is one of the 20th-century’s most recognisable photographs — that of a lone man, shopping bags in hand, bravely attempting to block the path of a column of tanks as they roll through Tiananmen Square in 1989.

It is an image that has come to symbolise brave, defiant protest, and yet the name of the figure — known simply as ‘Tank Man’ — has remained a mystery.

When a cryptic message left in a newspaper points to the identity of this unknown hero, a photojournalist embarks on a quest to find the subject of the famous image he captured decades earlier.

Who was the ‘Tank Man’? What happened to this hero? And could he still be alive?

With the action zinging back and forth between Beijing and New York across two decades, Chimerica is at once a riveting detective story, a witty commentary on media ethics, a meaty political play and a touching love story.

Alongside 12 professional actors, Chimerica features 21 students from the National Institute of Dramatic Art’s Diploma of Musical Theatre course.

This latest collaboration follows STC’s previous partnerships with NIDA for Gallipoli, directed by Nigel Jamieson, and The Lost Echo, directed by Barrie Kosky.

Chimerica premiered at London’s Almeida Theatre before transferring to the West End.

Playwright Lucy Kirkwood, whose work has not been seen in Australia before, has been described by The Independent as “the most rewarding dramatist of her generation”.

Her other plays include The Children, NSFW, Like Rabbits, Hansel & Gretel, Beauty & The Beast, The Small Hours, Bloody Wimmin, Tinderbox and Hedda.

Kip Williams was appointed Artistic Director of STC in November 2016.

His most recent work was A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a third Shakespeare for STC following productions of Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth starring Hugo Weaving.

Last year he also directed All My Sons by Arthur Miller and The Golden Age by Louis Nowra.

Other productions for STC include Love and Information by Caryl Churchill, Suddenly Last Summer by Tennessee Williams (winner of the Helpmann Award for Best Direction of a Play) and Children of the Sun by Maxim Gorky adapted by Andrew Upton.

Later this year he directs Three Sisters and Cloud Nine for STC and The Rape of Lucretia for Sydney Chamber Opera and Victorian Opera.

Based on media release issued by STC (https://www.sydneytheatre.com.au).

Above: Jason Chong and Mark Leonard Winter in STC’s Chimerica. Image: James Green.

Below: One of the 20th-century’s most recognisable photographs … taken in Beijing of a subject known simply as the ‘tank man’.