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Kenneth Branagh tipped for prestigious theatre post Down Under following approach by pal Cate Blanchett

By Claire McNeilly

Published 04/08/2015

Kenneth Branagh directed Cate Blanchett in the Disney film Cinderella
Kenneth Branagh directed Cate Blanchett in the Disney film Cinderella
Highly regarded: Sydney Theatre

Kenneth Branagh has been hotly tipped to become the Sydney Theatre Company's (STC) new artistic director.

The Belfast-born actor and director is understood to have been approached about the position by current director Andrew Upton and former co-artistic director Cate Blanchett, who are reportedly working together to secure a high-profile name for the job when Upton departs in 2016.

Branagh (54) is known for his stage and film work, particularly for his cinema adaptations of Shakespeare, and he recently announced the formation of his own Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company in London.

He is also due to present a season of five shows at London's Garrick Theatre from October 2015 to November 2016 with British stage luminaries Judi Dench, Zoë Wanamaker and Derek Jacobi.

Speculation over the three times Bafta winner's potential new post came to light via a report in the Daily Review Australian website.

But his potential appointment to the STC could prove controversial, given that the artistic directors of Australian state theatre companies are currently all Australians.

As the outgoing artistic director, Mr Upton has little influence over the hiring process - that responsibility rests with the company's board - but he may well be encouraging potential candidates for the position.

In February he told a newspaper he hoped STC resident directors Sarah Goodes and Kip Williams would apply for the job.

Branagh, who starred in Wallander, a British television series adapted from the Swedish novelist Henning Mankell's books, has previously worked in Australia on the film Rabbit Proof Fence, and he recently directed Blanchett in the high-grossing Disney blockbuster Cinderella.

If he was offered and accepted the job, he would be STC's sixth artistic director.

The theatre company has yet to comment on speculation linking him to the role.

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