Colin Duckworth

Resources Colin Duckworth’s Plays for the Stork Theatre, Melbourne

A Message from Mary Duckworth

Colin’s theatre life and his Academic life have always been entwined since I first met him when we were both performing in a play at Cambridge, March 1953. Peter Hall also saw him and asked him to join his theatre company which was putting on three plays in Cambridge during the summer vacation of 1953.

At the end of the season Peter Hall invited Colin to join his London Theatre Company where he was taking one or two of these plays. London University also offered Colin a job which he accepted. Peter Hall went on to found the modern Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford on Avon, taking with him some of the original cast from the Cambridge plays. Colin never regretted his choice of career as when he finished his Ph.D. he started directing students in plays, entering them in the Concours Dramatique, organised by the French Institute in London and during the whole of his career he was able to combine theatre with academia.

A turning point came in Colin’s life when he saw Peter Hall’s production of Waiting for Godot. Colin was asked whether he would like to do a critical edition of En attendant Godot for Harrap publishers (George G. Harrap and Company Limited) and he subsequently met Samuel Beckett, who was visiting London to see the play. Beckett then invited him to Paris to see the manuscript of the play and they became friends. In later years Colin directed many plays for La Mama Theatre in Carlton, including several by Beckett. Three of these short plays, Rockabye, Play and Ohio Impromptu were first performances in Australia.

During our time in Auckland, where he was Professor of Romance Studies, Colin became a paid up member of N.Z. Actors Equity as he took the lead in several professional plays including Private Lives, The Tempest (in which he played Prospero) and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf. The Vice Chancellor at the time came to see all of them and thoroughly approved of Colin practising what he was teaching. It was here that Colin started producing bilingual plays, notably Jarry’s Ubu Roi, as most of the audience could not understand French but enjoyed the bilingual experience. During all this time Colin was publishing articles for various peer-reviewed journals, many on Samuel Beckett and Voltaire.

Before we left Auckland for Melbourne, Michael Bula who was studying French and Law at Melbourne University, wrote to Colin asking him to direct a play for the newly formed Melbourne French Theatre (MFT). Soon after taking up his post as Professor of French at Melbourne University Colin wrote the bilingual play French Relapse for the MFT and thus began a happy liaison between the MFT and Colin which is recorded in “Melbourne French Theatre Thirty-Five Years of History”, a special edition of Explorations (now the French Australian Review), September 2013.

When Helen Madden wanted wanted a writer for a play based on Camus’s L’Étranger for her Stork Theatre, Colin’s name was suggested and so began another rewarding partnership. With his experience and insight, Colin was able to capture the essence of the novels he turned into plays. The six plays listed below were all performed at the Stork Theatre and all were received with much acclaim. These plays are not translations but adaptations and their purpose is to persuade the audience to return to the original novels. Colin loved the idea that he was able to encourage people to realise what marvels there are in French literature and this is why I am pleased to offer the following plays to members of ISFAR:

Who Killed Emma Bovary? (211Kb PDF) (Madame Bovary) by Gustave Flaubert
The Outsider (211Kb PDF) (L’Étranger) by Albert Camus
The Plague (242Kb PDF) (La Peste) by Albert Camus
Marcel and Albertine: Proust on Love (203Kb PDF) (À la recherche du temps perdu) by Marcel Proust
The Lover (216Kb PDF) (L’Amant and L’Amant de la Chine du Nord) by Marguerite Duras
The Red and the Black (306Kb PDF) (Le Rouge et le Noir) by Stendhal

Mary Duckworth

Melbourne, 2014