Sigrid Thornton makes STC debut in The Lifespan of a Fact

Australian stage and screen legend Sigrid Thornton will make her Sydney Theatre Company debut in the fast-paced and intelligent Broadway hit The Lifespan of a Fact when it premieres at Roslyn Packer Theatre from 20 September.

Thornton will play Emily Penrose, the editor of a prestigious magazine who tasks intern Jim Fingal (Charles Wu – The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui) with fact-checking a piece written by her star essayist John D’Agata (Gareth Davies – Home, I’m Darling). Suddenly, a seemingly simple task turns into an ideological battle over the meaning of truth, accuracy and the ethics of creative nonfiction.

The show is based on a book of the same name, which recounts the real life story of essayist John D’Agata and fact-checker Jim Fingal who clashed over a story written for a magazine in 2003. The character of Emily Penrose is fictional, inspired by the numerous editors who encountered the essay before it was published.

Thornton said she was “overjoyed” to finally be performing on the STC stage in what she describes as an “incredibly relevant” show.


I know some people will question why it’s taken so long for me to work with STC, but it has to be the right timing and the right show – and The Lifespan of a Fact is definitely that for me.

This play is so topical because we are in an age of re-identification with what truth really is, and reassessing fact and fiction in terms of how elastic they are. What is terrific is that this is addressed through satirical comedy, and I think that is part of its juice – how it’s able to tease out the issues through laughter.

STC’s Associate Director Paige Rattray, who is at the helm of this production, says The Lifespan of a Fact is a timely investigation of the old truism ‘never let the truth get in the way of a good story’.


This is a play based on a book that was based on the publication of an essay, based on a true story of a boy who committed suicide in Vegas. This convoluted history of interpreting and reinterpreting the same narrative makes for wonderful dramatic tension

There is a great quote in the play where John:

‘I take liberties with things that deepen the central truth of the piece’. This struck me because that is not only what people like Trump may think they’re doing, it is absolutely what a majority of us do as theatremakers. So what are the responsibilities of storytelling in our ‘post-truth’ world if the liberty of ‘reasonable’ people to interpret events has been lost? That is the true core of this play – can you capture a feeling with facts? How do we explore our existential truths without poetry?

Rattray is working with Bernadette Fam as Assistant Director, set designer Marg Horwell, Emma White as costume designer, lighting designer Paul Jackson, composition/sound design by Maria Alfonsine and AV design by Susie Henderson.

The Lifespan of a Fact will play Roslyn Packer Theatre from 20 September to 15 October.

Season Details

Venue: Roslyn Packer Theatre
Date: 20 Sep-15 Oct 2022

For more information click HERE

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