Something for Cate: stage call for Sydney Uni award

It was just a walk-on part and it wasn't exactly the red carpet but the line-up was certainly of that calibre. And, for Cate Blanchett, the costume, comprising a red academic gown and cap, wasn't exactly familiar stage attire.

The leading actor was among a diverse range of talent receiving honorary degrees at the University of Sydney's Great Hall.

''This means a great deal for me as someone who didn't complete my arts degree at Melbourne University - I left to go to NIDA. What a great city this is,'' she said upon receiving her doctorate.

Her scroll was a doctor of letters in honour of ''her work as an actress and as artistic director of the Sydney Theatre Company, as well as her advocacy of the importance of the arts in education''.

Kate Grenville, the author of The Secret River, about the first settlers on the Hawkesbury River, was also given an honorary degree. An adaption of the book will be part of the Sydney Theatre Company's 2013 season.

The Aboriginal musician Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu received a director of music for contribution to the promotion of music and culture.

Blanchett said rehearsals for The Secret River start on Monday ''with an incredible indigenous and white Australian cast''. ''It is enormously challenging whenever you are taking a work of great literature and trying to distil that and give it a theatrical life.''

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