Derek Goldby

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Derek Goldby
Born 1940 (age 76–77)
Adelaide, South Australia
Occupation Theatre director

Derek Goldby (born 1940) is an Australian-born theatre director who has worked internationally, particularly in Canada, Belgium, the United Kingdom, the United States and France.

Early life[edit]

Goldby was born in Adelaide[1] but when he was five years old, his family emigrated to the UK, where he attended Dulwich College in London and Caius College in Cambridge, England. While at Caius, he directed a production of Arnold Wesker's The Kitchen which led to his first professional job as Assistant Director at the Royal Court Theatre in London.[citation needed]

Work in Britain[edit]

He left the Royal Court Theatre after one year to direct a repertory season at Barrow-in-Furness, which was followed by a season at Harrowgate Theatre. The following two years he directed free-lance productions at Dundee, Bristol and Sheffield Repertory Companies, as well as at Stratford-on-Avon. In 1963, Goldby directed Chips and Everything, then produced Twelfth Night and Tons of Money at Her Majesty's, Barrow.[2] Altogether, he directed 150 productions in these regional towns, including the English language premiere of Berthold Brecht's A day in the life of the great scholar Wu.[1]

In 1966, Goldby became an assistant director to John Dexter at the National Theatre of Great Britain (now the Royal National Theatre) and worked on The Storm and Much Ado About Nothing. At age 25, he became the youngest director that the National Theatre had had up to that time when he directed Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by the then mostly unknown Tom Stoppard. At that point, the play had been performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, but it was Goldby's 1967 National Theatre production at the Old Vic that brought the play to international attention.[3]

Work in the United States[edit]

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead went on to play on Broadway, where it was nominated for eight Tony Awards and received four, including Best Play. Goldby went on to direct several other productions on Broadway, including Loot by Joe Orton,[4] and Her First Roman, a musical based on George Bernard Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra (for which Goldby was brought in late in rehearsals as a replacement director).[5][6]

In 1969, he was announced for a production of Harold Pinter's The Homecoming at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis (but only made his debut at the Guthrie with The Merry Wives of Windsor, from which he was eventually ousted).[7][8] Already in 1968, he was announced as director for Bock and Harnick's musical The Rothschilds,[1] but, after out-of-town tryouts, was eventually replaced by Michael Kidd.[9]

Off-Broadway, Goldby directed Spitting Image by Colin Spencer in 1969. After a long absence, Goldby returned to New York in 1991 to direct Brad Fraser's Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love at the Orpheum Theatre.[citation needed]

International work[edit]

Goldby spent most of the 1980s in Canada, where he directed for the Shaw Festival, the Stratford Festival, the Tarragon Theatre, CanStage, Théâtre de Quat'Sous and the National Theatre School. Among his work were several productions at the Shaw Festival, including Georges Feydeau's A Flea in Her Ear and a production of Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac, featuring comic actor Heath Lamberts in the title role, which played at The Shaw in 1982 and 1983, and which was revived for a run at the Royal Alexandra theatre in 1985. Other work includes productions of Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya and August Strindberg's the Father at the Tarragon Theatre; and productions of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest and Frank Wedekind's Spring Awakening at CanStage.[10] In Belgium, Goldby worked at Brussels' Théâtre de Poche, where he directed, amongst other work, productions of Martin McDonagh's The Lieutenant of Inishmore and Simon Stephens' Motortown.[11]

Since 2000[edit]

In the 2000s (decade), Goldby worked in drama schools in England including RADA, Rose Bruford College and Central School of Speech and Drama,[11] and directed a number of other plays including Autumn and Winter, by Lars Noren, at the Orange Tree Theatre.[12]

Thoughts on theatre and audiences[edit]

  • "I enjoy directing. Since I was 16, I always knew I'd be a director."[13]
  • "I still enjoy working on Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. It's still interesting because of what each new cast of actors brings to it. The text has in many ways the polished surface of metal. The values are verbal, like the plays of Wilde and Shaw, really. So I'm fascinated to see how actors respond to the challenge of the play. It has its own unique laws—unlike any other play in dramatic literature. Some people hate it."[13]
  • "Orton is our best social satirist since Jonathan Swift. 'Loot' tears apart the whole mystique of respectability and death, and does it with laughs. If Broadway audiences aren't sophisticated enough to accept it then there's no hope for the theatre here...I couldn't expect your establishment critics to like it. After all, it's a left-wing play in a right-wing country."[14]
  • "It's not that I don't believe in the theatre of shock, or the theatre of purpose, or the theatre of whatever. It's that I think we all need to be reminded of what people go to the theatre for. People go to the theatre basically—young and old—for an experience they can't get anywhere else. They want to laugh and cry."[15]


  1. ^ a b c Much of this early information comes from Goldby's thumbnail biographical sketches appearing in the programs for the Broadway production of Her First Roman and Loot.
  2. ^ "Higher Education Helps," The Stage (28 February 1963).
  3. ^ "Night Waves – Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead". 5 July 2007. Retrieved 20 October 2011. 
  4. ^ "Derek Goldby Theatre Credits". 2011. Retrieved 20 October 2011. 
  5. ^ IBDB; conversation with Derek Goldby.
  6. ^ Sam Zolotow, "Vale Atque Ave", New York Times, 15 August 1968, p. 45.
  7. ^ "Wright Fires Director of 'Wives' at Guthrie," Variety (2 July 1986).
  8. ^ Sheri O'Meare, "Guthrie Director Gets His Walking Papers", Skyway News (26 June 1986), p. 5.
  9. ^ Dick Adler, "'The Producer' by Christopher Davis" (book review), New York Times (5 March 1972), p. BR4.
  10. ^ Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia; personal observation
  11. ^ a b "Derek Goldby". 2011. Retrieved 20 October 2011. 
  12. ^ Billington, Michael (9 May 2011), "Autumn and Winter – review", The Guardian, retrieved 24 November 2014 
  13. ^ a b Samuel Hirsch, "'Rosencrantz and Guildenstern' Is Alive," Boston Herald (26 January 1969).
  14. ^ Frances Herridge, "Angry 'Loot' Director Calls B'way Unsophisticated", New York Post (27 March 1968), p. 82.
  15. ^ "Quote of the Week", New York Times (10 December 1967), p. 165.

External links[edit]