EVEN allowing for jet lag, Cate Blanchett and Andrew Upton were finding it challenging to articulate how they learned to divide their responsibilities as artistic directors of the Sydney Theater Company, whose “Uncle Vanya” opens on Saturday. Boldly trying to form complete sentences in a hotel suite only a few hours after arriving in New York from Australia, Mr. Upton compared their partnership to the two halves of a brain, while Ms. Blanchett spoke of “healthy, anarchic randomness” balanced by “rational, militaristic-like precision.”
Then Mr. Upton applied a more logical metaphor, comparing their artistic affiliation to “the marriage of the business and the art, which isn’t necessarily an unhappy marriage.”
“Because in the end, you want happy audiences,” he said. “You want people to come and see your shows. No one’s trying — — ”
“To be Grotowski,” Ms. Blanchett said, finishing Mr. Upton’s sentence with a reference to that experimental theater director. “It’s just guiding the right audience to the right show.”
Mr. Upton said, “We haven’t quite cracked that yet, but we’re working on it.”
Mr. Upton, 46, and Ms. Blanchett, 43, have been married since 1997 and running the Sydney Theater Company since 2008, during which time they have at least figured out a few things. When they depart that company after next year, at the end of their second three-year term, they will leave it with a significantly enhanced international profile.
It is a reputation built on savvy and star-studded programming, including a production of “Uncle Vanya,” adapted by Mr. Upton, directed by Tamas Ascher and featuring Ms. Blanchett as Yelena, that runs at City Center as part of the Lincoln Center Festival.
They have also raised three young sons while navigating unfamiliar and at times noxious artistic territory, and learning what it means to be each other’s better half.
Contemplating a union in which they have committed to sharing their creative endeavors, Mr. Upton said: “It works for us. Possibly not for everyone else.”
When the two are together in person, their contrasts all but point themselves out. Ms. Blanchett, an Academy Award winner who has played Katharine Hepburn and Elizabeth I on screen, was dressed in a rugby shirt and pantsuit and carried herself with a certain upright decorum.
Seated next to her — a position where anyone would suffer by comparison — Mr. Upton, a playwright, was unkempt and wearing a leather jacket and jeans, prepared for Australian winter rather than suffocating Manhattan heat.
keyboard shortcuts: V vote up article J next comment K previous comment