Christopher Fry

Writer, Translator

Male

Born: December 18, 1907
Bristol, England

Died: June 30, 2005
Chichester, England

Christopher Fry, one of the last modern playwrights to find success writing entirely in verse, died June 30, 2005, in Chichester, England, the New York Times reported. Mr. Fry was 97 at the time of his death, and his moment in the sun had long since passed. But for a roughly a decade following World War II, he was one of Britain's leading playwrights, applauded for the beauty and probing intelligence of his sincere-minded plays, of which The Lady's Not for Burning is the most famous and enduring. In 1950, he saw three of his plays hold different stages in London, as well as an adaptation of Anouilh's Ring Round the Moon, presented by Peter Brook.

Obituary: Along with T.S. Eliot, Fry represented a small movement to revive verse drama in the modern theatre; indeed, Eliot was the younger man's mentor and inspiration. One of his earliest play, Boy With a Cart, was influenced by Eliot's Murder in the Cathedral.

That play was about a ninth-century shepherd who founded a church, according to the Times. Other Fry plays had similarly spiritual, religious or humanistic topics. The Lady's Not for Burning was about a woman who is accused of witchcraft because of the scientific experiments she conducts. Venus Observed tells of a Duke who faces up to his detachment from life. The Dark Is Light Enough concerns a Countess who finds herself in the middle of two armies.

Critic Harold Clurman said "The epigraph for Fry's art is `Shall we not suffer as wittily as we can?'...He wears his rue with a difference—of bright phrases, happy conceits and a rich heritage."

Christopher Fry was often lucky in his actors. His career zenith occurred at a time of great British acting. Paul Scofield played the lead in 1946's A Phoenix Too Frequent. John Gielgud directed and starred in Burning (1948), with Claire Bloom and Richard Burton in supporting roles. Laurence Olivier starred in the premiere of Venus Observed (1950). All of the above plays had productions on Broadway, with Gielgud and Burton repeating their work in Burning. Rex Harrison appeared in Venus and Katharine Cornell headlined The Dark Is Light Enough. None of the plays, however, fared as well as they had in London.

The London premiere of The Dark Is Light Enough, in 1954, was his first setback. Critics said is was plot heavy, yet static. Other words his critics would come to use with frequency included: empty, placid, sentimental. Soon, the Angry Young Men movement of wild naturalistic playwrights were casting Mr. Fry as old-fashioned and precious.

He went on to pen adaptations of Anouilh's The Lark and Giraudoux's Tiger at the Gates. The latter won a Tony Award nomination. Mr. Fry wrote little for the stage following the failure of Curtmantle at the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1962.

Christopher Fry Harris was born in Bristol, England, on Dec. 18, 1907, according to the Times. He began writing plays while at Bedford Modern School. He through himself into theatre in 1929 after a brief career as a teacher. He tried everything: acting, directing, running a repertory company and, of course, writing.

 

Roles

Playbill Cover - Ring Round the Moon Ring Round the Moon
Apr. 28, 1999 - Jun. 27, 1999
Book Adaptation
(Original)
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - Duel of Angels Duel of Angels
Apr. 19, 1960 - Jun. 1, 1960
Book Adaptation
(Original)
 
    Translator
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Firstborn The Firstborn
Apr. 29, 1958 - May 31, 1958
Writer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Tiger at the Gates Tiger at the Gates
Oct. 3, 1955 - Apr. 7, 1956
Translator
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Dark Is Light Enough The Dark Is Light Enough
Feb. 23, 1955 - Apr. 23, 1955
Writer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Venus Observed Venus Observed
Feb. 13, 1952 - Apr. 26, 1952
Writer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Ring Round the Moon Ring Round the Moon
Nov. 23, 1950 - Jan. 13, 1951
Translator
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Lady's Not for Burning The Lady's Not for Burning
Nov. 8, 1950 - Mar. 17, 1951
Writer
(Original)
 
A Phoenix Too Frequent / Freight
Apr. 26, 1950 - Apr. 29, 1950
Writer
(Original)
 
 

Inside the Playbill (2)

See more Who's Who

Awards


New York Drama Critics' Circle

Year Category Production Winner/Nominee
1956 Best Foreign Play Tiger at the Gates Winner
1952 Best Foreign Play Venus Observed Winner
1951 Best Foreign Play The Lady's Not for Burning Winner
 
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