The Mad King: Geoffrey Rush On Stage

Exit the King costume
Costume worn by Geoffrey Rush in ‘Exit The King’, 2007. Gift of Malthouse Theatre, 2011. The Arts Centre, Performing Arts Collection

The Performing Arts Collection tells the rich and diverse story of performance in our country. And it is vast – an exciting backstage peek behind the scenes of our theatrical and musical history. Its importance is unquestionable – its impact is thrilling entertainment.” (Geoffrey Rush)

Geoffrey Rush is one of Australia’s best-known and most respected actors. He is also one of a handful of actors to have won the coveted ‘Triple Crown of Acting’ by winning an Academy Award, a Tony Award and an Emmy Award.

Rush is perhaps best known to the wider public for his work on screen in such films as Shine, Pirates of the Caribbean, Shakespeare in Love, Elizabeth and The King’s Speech, however, his long and distinguished career on stage has provided some of the most thrilling moments in Australian theatre history.

Rush recently facilitated the donation by Malthouse Theatre and Belvoir St Theatre of some of his significant costumes from the productions The Diary Of A Madman and Exit The King to the Arts Centre’s Performing Arts Collection.

The Diary of a Madman green suit
Costume worn by Geoffrey Rush in ‘The Diary of a Madman’, 2010. Gift of Belvoir St Theatre, 2011. The Arts Centre, Performing Arts Collection.

In 2009 Rush made his Broadway debut in Exit the King at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. The play, a Belvoir St Theatre/Malthouse Theatre co-production adapted by Rush and director Neil Armfeild, was the first Australian production of a dramatic play to be presented on Broadway. Rush’s extraordinary physical and verbal dexterity earned him many awards including a Tony for Best Performance by a Leading Actor.

The Diary of a Madman was the first of many collaborations between Rush and Armfield. Rush made his first appearance in the production at Belvoir St Theatre, Sydney in 1989. When the production was revived in 2010 as part of Armfield’s farewell Belvoir season audiences clambered to see the now internationally famous Rush in one of his most revered roles. The Diary of a Madman was also performed in New York earlier this year, with Rush’s performance was described as “a wacky and wonderfully touching tour-de-force”.

As Australia’s national collection, the Performing Arts Collection is thrilled to accept the donation of costumes from these landmark productions as a tangible reminder of the moment when the Australian theatrical sensibility took centre stage in New York.

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