Cate Blanchett backing new theater project

September 15, 2008 5:10:55 PM PDT
Oscar winners Cate Blanchett and Philip Seymour Hoffman are backing a project to promote collaboration among theater companies in London, New York and Sydney, Australia.Producers at London's Trafalgar Studios said Monday that they are forming an alliance with the Sydney Theatre Company, run by Blanchett and her playwright husband Andrew Upton, and Hoffman's LAByrinth Theater Company in New York.

Under the deal, the American and Australian companies will stage work at the West End theater, and British plays will travel to Sydney and New York.

The first play to get the collaborative treatment is "Riflemind," Upton's play about an aging rock band's reunion, which opens Thursday under Hoffman's direction.

Trafalgar Studios creative director Howard Panton said that, while the world was growing ever more globalized, theater remained "oddly insular."

"There are so many exciting voices that we simply don't hear here," he said.

Blanchett, who won a supporting actress Oscar in 2005 for "The Aviator," and will soon appear alongside Brad Pitt in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," said live theater was her first love. A film career "can often eclipse the raison d'Fetre of getting involved in acting in the first place," she said, but her fame gave her the chance to "harness one's cachet to the cart horse of the theater for its own good."

"I love the theater, that's what motivates me," said Hoffman, who helped found LAByrinth in 1992 as a company devoted to new work.

More than film?

"No, no," said Hoffman, the 2006 best-actor Academy Award winner "Capote." "They're equal."