Now based in Reykjavík, Benedict Andrews is an Australian poet, playwright, film-maker, and director of theatre and opera, .
His new feature film Seberg —starring Kristen Stewart as Jean Seberg — will have its world premiere at the 76th Venice International Film Festival, in August 2019. It will be released in the US by Amazon Studios.
Benedict’s feature film debut Una (based on David Harrower’s play ‘Blackbird’ and starring Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelsohn) premiered at the 43rd Telluride Film Festival. Other festival appearances included: Toronto International Film Festival, London International Film Festival, Busan Film Festival, Hampton’s Film Festival, Palm Springs Film Festival, Rome Film Festival, Gothenborg Film Festival.
In 2018, his Young Vic production of Cat on A Hot Tin Roof (starring Sienna Miller, Jack O’Connell and Colm Meaney) sold out its West End run at the Apollo Theatre. In 2016, Benedict’s Young Vic production of A Streetcar Named Desire (starring Gillian Anderson, Ben Foster and Vanessa Kirby) transferred to St Ann’s Warehouse in New York. In 2014, his Sydney Theatre Company production of The Maids (starring Cate Blanchett, Isabelle Huppert, and Elizabeth Debicki) played at the Lincoln Center Festival. His prior Young Vic production Three Sisters (2012) won the London Critics Circle Best Director award. His prior STC production of Groß und Klein won him his third Helpmann Best Director award and toured to Paris, London, Vienna and Recklinghausen.
In autumn 2017, Dutch National Opera revived Benedict’s production of La Bohème, a co-production with English National Opera. His prior ENO production, Detlev Glanert’s Caligula (2012), was nominated for an Olivier Best New Opera Production award and toured to Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires in 2014. Other recent opera includes: Reimann’s Medea at Komische Oper, Berlin; Verdi’s Stiffelio at Frankfurt; Verdi’s Macbeth at Royal Danish Opera; Le Nozze di Figaro at Sydney Opera House; Prokofiev’s Fiery Angel at Komische Oper, Berlin, and Opera de Lyon; and Monteverdi’s The Return of Ulysses (ENO / Young Vic.).
His marathon Shakespeare cycle The War of the Roses, which he adapted with Tom Wright, was the theatrical highlight of the 2009 Sydney and Perth festivals and won six Helpmann Awards, including Best Play and Best Direction of a Play as well as five Sydney Theatre Awards for Best Direction and Best Mainstage Production. Further productions for Sydney Theatre Company include The City; The Season at Sarsaparilla (Green Room Award for Best Director); Julius Caesar; Far Away; Endgame; Life is a Dream; Old Masters; Three Sisters, La Dispute (Helpmann Award Best Director); Mr Kolpert; Attempts on Her Life; and Fireface.
From 2004 to 2010, Benedict worked extensively at the Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz, Berlin where his productions include Saved; A Streetcar Named Desire; The Dog, the Night, the Knife; Cleansed; Drunk Enough to Say I Love You; Stoning Mary; The Ugly One; and Blackbird.
For Belvoir Street Theatre, Sydney, he has directed The Seagull, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?; The Chairs; A Midsummer’s Night Dream; The Threepenny Opera; and Measure for Measure, which was awarded Best Direction, Best Stage Design and Best Mainstage Play at the 2010 Sydney Theatre Awards.
At Iceland’s National Theatre, Benedict has directed Macbeth and King Lear, which won 6 Gríman Awards, including Best Direction and Play of the Year.
Other directing credits include Moving Target (Malthouse/Adelaide Festival/Sydney Opera House); Eldorado (Malthouse); Ur/Faust (Weimar 99/Adelaide Festival); Closer (State Theatre South Australia); A Dream Play and Mojo (Brink Productions); Wounds to the Face and Storm from Paradise (Blueprint).
From 2000 to 2003 Benedict was the Resident Director at Sydney Theatre Company, and in 1997 was the Artistic Director of Magpie 2 Theatre at STCSA where he staged Features of Blown Youth, Mercedes and In The Solitude of the Cotton Fields. Benedict was awarded the 2005 Sydney Myer Performing Arts Award and was the recipient of Gloria Payten and Gloria Dawn Foundation Fellowships in 1998. He is a graduate of Flinders University Drama Centre.
As a writer, Benedict has adapted The Maids with Andrew Upton and The War of the Roses with Tom Wright, Life is a Dream and Three Sisters (2001) with Beatrix Christian, and his own versions of Chekhov’s The Seagull and The Three Sisters (2012).
Benedict’s first original play Every Breath was produced at Belvoir Street Theatre in 2012 and subsequently translated into Portuguese by Jorge Silva Melo for a production by Artistas Unidos in Lisbon 2013. The Portuguese production was nominated for Time Out Lisbon’s Best Play award. His most recent play Gloria opened at Sydney’s Griffin Theatre in August 2016 coinciding with the publication of his Collected Plays by Oberon Books. This volume includes the plays Like a Sun, Every Breath, The Stars, Geronimo, and Gloria, plus an introduction by Benedict’s long-term collaborator Marius von Mayenburg.
Benedict’s first volume of poetry Lens Flare was published in 2014 by Pitt Street Poetry and was awarded the 2016 Mary Gilmore Prize for best first book of Australian poetry (2014-2016).
“Over the past five years, Andrews has produced a remarkable body of work: his Julius Caesar looked to the torture and spectacle of the war in Iraq; his staging of Patrick White’s The Season at Sarsaparilla condensed three suburban household into one revolving brick veneer home, inviting the audience to stickybeak, watching the actors through glass windows and on surveillance cameras; he created a terrifyingly funny Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in which George and Martha stalked each other behind glass walls. And in The War of the Roses, he rendered eight hours of Shakespeare’s history plays – four acts over eight hours – in edgy performances and unforgettable images (gold raining down on the court of Cate Blanchett’s Richard II for an hour and a half.)”
-Elissa Blake, SMH, June 2, 2010
“Everyone wants to work with him… He shakes up a company with his energy. His rehearsal rooms are muscular – brutal, even – but he loves being surprised… he has an incredible visual sense and he can wrestle any text to the ground.”
-Cate Blanchett, SMH, June 2, 2010
“Benedict Andrews is one of the original imaginations of Australian theatre. For ten years now he has been applying his complex startling vision to some of our dramatic literature, as well as illuminating new writing, both nationally and internationally. His work is marked by the intense and fragile beauty of its imagery and the sense of deep metaphor lying beneath the narrative surface. In an artform that needs to be both popular and pragmatic, Benedict manages to remain that rare thing: a poet.”
-Neil Armfield, 2005 Sidney Myer Performing Arts Award Citation.