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Christopher Fry


(1907- present)

He was one of the most celebrated playwrights of the mid-20th century, regarded as the Shakespeare of his time for his poetry and wit. While a young teacher, helped to found the Tunbridge Wells Repertory Players in 1932, and directed the English premiere there of Bernard Shaw's Village Wooing in 1934. Two years later, Fry married Phyllis Hart, a journalist who had recently returned from Canada where she worked for the Calgary Herald. In 1939 Fry left teaching to become the artistic director of the Oxford Playhouse, 1939. But World War II abruptly overtook his theatrical career. A Quaker and a pacifist, Fry served four years with the Pioneer Corps fighting fires and dealing with bomb damage on the Liverpool docks. Christopher Fry still lives in Chichester, West Sussex, in England. In a February letter to the Shaw Festival Theater he wrote, "I wish indeed that I could be with you as you so generously invite me to be, but there's something about being a nonagenarian which dissuades from long travel and (particularly) airports. There is a lesson to be learned from GBS standing on a ladder to prune roses." (Shaw Festival Theater- website)


His major works include his first play, The Boy with a Cart. After the war, his hopeful comedies led a resurgence in verse drama in English, especially the four "seasonal comedies": The Lady's Not for Burning ("Spring," 1948), Venus Observed ("Autumn," 1949), The Dark Is Light Enough ("Winter," 1954) and A Yard of Sun ("Summer," 1970). He also wrote religious dramas in verse such as The Firstborn (1946), Thor with Angels (1948) and A Sleep of Prisoners (1951), and several important dramatic translations such as Ring Round the Moon (1950) and The Lark (1955) by Jean Anouilh and Tiger at the Gates (1955) by Jean Giraudoux. Fry's plays attracted some of the era's best classical actors, including Paul Scofield in A Phoenix Too Frequent (1946), and John Gielgud in The Lady's Not for Burning