Drawing: Hugo Weaving in The Visit

Autographed drawing of Hugo Weaving in The Visit at the National Theatre

Veteran Australian actor Hugo Weaving returned to the London stage last month in the National Theatre’s production of Fredrich Durrenmatt’s visionary 1956 revenge play THE VISIT or THE OLD LADY COMES TO CALL, directed by Jeremy Herrin. Adapted by Tony Kushner and set in mid-twentieth century, in Slurry, a poverty-stricken industrial town in Western, New York where billionaire heiress Claire Zachanassian returns after leaving 45 years earlier as a pregnant 16 year-old to seek revenge on her former lover Alfred Ill, who dumped her back then. The locals hope her arrival signals a change in their fortunes, but they soon realise that prosperity will only come at a terrible price. Hugo played Alfred and Lesley Melville was Claire.

The production unfortunately was cancelled in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, but Hugo signed and returned my drawing of him as Alfred I left at the National’s stage door before final curtain.

Drawing: Hugo Weaving in Waiting For Godot at the Barbican

Hugo Weaving

This is a sketch of Hugo Weaving as Vladimir in WAITING FOR GODOT. It’s one of two drawings I did last week based on the Sydney Theatre Company’s production that had a short season at the Barbican in London. The other sketch was a montage of all four cast members, including Richard Roxburgh, Philip Quast and Luke Mullins, which they all signed for me earlier in the run. Hugo had graphed ‘hugo w’, which was more personal, but I thought on this one I would like a full ‘hugo weaving’ (he likes his lower case letters). Collectors like to have exemplars of all autograph variations.

After the final performance last Saturday evening, it was way past 11 before the cast emerged intent on climbing into cars, to whisk them to the after-party. A large group of hunters and collectors… and the obligotary dealers (which I place in the former category) were waiting. Hugo was the last to appear and he signed a few LOTR books and stills, as his PA announced that he was in a hurry and couldn’t sign. This caused a panic amongst the hunters who swarmed on the target with the likelihood of me getting anything, let alone a full ‘hugo weaving’ diminishing by the milisecond. however he saw the sketch, took my pen-not my trusty sharpie, but a new Pentel fine point- which I’ve discovered is excellent for signing the drawings on the sketch paper-and signed ‘hugo w’. Since he still had my pen, signing a few items as the official  hurridly escorted him to the waiting vehicle, I tried to get the ‘eaving’ after the ‘w’, but to no avail. So I have two ‘personal’ graphed GODOT sketches…no ‘eaving’ and no Pentel fine point pen. It must be an Australian thing, I thought, walking to the tube station holding the cap.they like to collect collectors pens minus their caps. Previously I had the same experience, on more than one occasion with Aussie tennis ace Lleyton Hewitt, the subject of another blog you may care to read for reference.

Sketch: Waiting for Godot at The Barbican

barbican godot

Andrew Upton’s production for the Sydney Theatre Company of Samuel Beckett’s 1953 absurdist Waiting for Godot has been running all week as part of the Barbican’s International Beckett Festival.

In her five star review for The Telegraph, Jane Shillings wrote, “you are about to spend two hours in the dark captivated, moved, and when you leave, in some way changed. This is what Upton and his cast achieve in a production of luminous intelligence and virtuoso physicality”. That cast is Hugo Weaving, Richard Roxburgh, Philip Quast and Luke Mullins.

“Weaving’s sinuous, dandified Vladimir, Roxburgh’s wounded Estragon, Philip Quast, ruined and bombastic as Pozzo and Luke Mullins’ menacingly vulnerable Lucky explore the resonances of Beckett’s text with elegant precision,” Shillings said.

Right, getting four graphs in one attempt is a mission, especially prior to a show. I arrived at the Barbican stage door before last Saturday’s matinée, where a mixture of autograph seekers had gathered waiting for the Godot cast.

They were dominated by the dealers, wanting Hugo on non-Godot material, such as The Matrix and Lord Of The Rings stills.

Philip arrived first. I had met him recently at the London Coliseum when he appeared in Sweeney Todd, and he happily signed. Luke wears a blonde wig, so I had to carefully look at eyes to recognise him and got lucky, so two down and two to go. Richard was next and he was very friendly, loved the sketch and chatted with everyone as he singed. Time ticked by, but no Hugo.

It was less than an hour to curtain up. Most thought he must have used another entrance. The dealers positioned themselves downy the street to interrupt him, realising if he did arrive he wouldn’t have a lot of time. That proved to be the case. At 1.50pm Hugo strolled past all the waiting autograph hunters, apologising that he was running late and couldn’t’ stop. I was near the stage door and as he approached I politely asked if he would sign my sketch. “Ok, I’ll sign that,” he said and graphed a “Hugo W” for me and went in. Waiting for Godot, done!