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Justin Fleming (born 3 January 1953), born Sydney, Australia is a playwright and author. He has written for theatre, music theatre, television and cinema and his works have been produced and published in Australia, the US, Canada, the UK, Belgium, Poland and France. Fleming has been a barrister and vice-president of the Australian Writers' Guild and a board member of the Australian National Playwrights' Centre.
Early life, education and career
Born in Sydney, New South wales, in 1953, Justin Fleming attended high school at St Ignatius' College, Riverview, where he was taught English Literature by Joseph Castley and Charles MacDonald, S.J., and the classics by Charles Fraser, S.J. Near contemporaries at the college included writers Gerard Windsor and Nick Enright and composer Stewart D'Arrietta. He was taught music by Julienne Horn and Tessa Birnie. Fleming later studied at the Ensemble Theatre under Hayes Gordon and Zika Nester and has degrees in Law from Dublin University and Sydney University, and a Master of Laws from University College London. He was Associate to District Court Judge John Lincoln 1974-1979 and for some years a barrister in Dublin and Sydney, before devoting himself full-time to writing.
Career as playwright
Fleming's first play, Hammer, was staged at the Festival of Sydney in 1981 and was followed by Indian Summer in 1982. In 1983, in the Sydney Opera House, Sir Robert Helpmann starred for the Sydney Theatre Company in the world premiere of Fleming's play The Cobra. Helpmann portrayed the elderly Lord Alfred Douglas, reflecting bitterly on his notorious youthful relationship with Oscar Wilde.
In 1989, the Sydney Theatre Company produced Harold In Italy at the Sydney Opera House. It was later staged by the Teatr Studyjny in Lodz Poland. The Deep Blue was staged at The Bush, London, in 1991 and the following year The Ensemble Rep Studios produced The Nonsense Boy. Fleming has twice been awarded the Nancy Keesing Writer's Fellowship to the Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris (1993, 1998), where he wrote The Starry Messenger and Burnt Piano (in French Le piano brulé). The latter was staged around Australia and went on to win the New York New Dramatists' Award in the year 2000 and opened in New York City in March 2001. It was short-listed for various awards including the NSW Premier's Literary Award and won the Banff PlayRites Residency, Canada. The Playwright Harold Pinter was an admirer of Fleming's work, particularly the portrait of Samuel Beckett in Burnt Piano. Pinter described Fleming as a writer "of authority and distinction".
Fleming has been librettist and lyricist on Crystal Balls (Compact Opera/Sadler's Wells, London), The Ninth Wonder (Sydney Theatre Company), Tess of the d'Urbervilles (Savoy Theatre, London and UK tour), Accidental Miracles (WAAPA/Sydney Theatre Company/Cameron Macintosh), Continental (Opera Australia/Parer Productions/Neil Gooding), Satango (Griffin Theatre Company/Riverside Theatres), Ripper (Ensemble Theatre), Laid in Earth (Queensland Music Festival).
In 2006, Fleming was made Writer-in-Residence by the Dr Robert and Lina Thyll-Dur Foundation at La Casa Zia Lina, Elba in Italy, where he translated Moliere's Tartuffe (The Hypocrite) from the original French into English. In 2007 he was awarded the Writer's Residency at Arthur Boyd's Bundanon, where he wrote Origin, a play on the subject of Charles Darwin, commissioned by the Melbourne Theatre Company. He was also awarded the Tasmanian Writers' Centre Residency in 2008, where he wrote His Mother's Voice. In 2011, Fleming was commissioned by the Bell Shakespeare Company to translate Molière's The School for Wives and by Ensemble Studio Theatre and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, New York, to write Soldier of the Mind, a play about Santiago Ramón y Cajal, the Spanish neuroscientist. In 2015, Riverside Theatres produced Shellshock and in 2016 Griffin Theatre Company and Bell Shakespeare Company co-produced The Literati, Fleming's adaptation of Moliere's Les Femmes Savantes.
Fleming has been Vice-President of The Australian Writers' Guild and served on the Board of The Australian National Playwrights' Centre. His plays have been produced and published widely, including the UK, US, Canada, France, Australia, Belgium and Poland.
Among his works for Television, Fleming wrote Part One of the history of Australian cinema, The Celluloid Heroes for ABC TV. Fleming's history of the Common Law: Barbarism to Verdict was written for ABC/BBC television, and published internationally by HarperCollins with a foreword by John Mortimer QC. Other publications include Fleming's histories: The Crest of the Wave (Allen&Unwin), The Vision Splendid and All That Brothers Should Be (Beaver Press). His Paris journal was published by Halstead Press in Paris Studio.
He has also worked as librettist, including collaborations on Satango with Stewart D'Arrietta, Ripper with Thos Hodgson/Ensemble Rep Studio, Crystal Balls (Sadler's Wells/Compact Opera) and Tess of the D'Urbervilles, with Stephen Edwards/Thor Productions, which toured Britain before it was staged at The Savoy Theatre in London's West End
- ALL THAT BROTHERS SHOULD BE
- PARIS STUDIO
- BARBARISM TO VERDICT - A History of the Common Law, foreword by John Mortimer, QC ISBN 0-207-17929-8 (pbk.)
- THE VISION SPLENDID - A History of Carroll & O'Dea Archived 10 September 2004 at the Wayback Machine.
- THE CREST OF THE WAVE - A history of Waverley College 1903-2003
- THE WAVE ROLLS ON - Waverley College Old Boys' Union 1908-2008 - format edited by Col Blake
- BURNT PIANO - published by Phoenix Education
- A MOLIERE ANTHOLOGY - Tartuffe, The School for Wives, The Miser, The Literati (Les Femnes Savantes). Published by Phoenix Education; Currency Press.
- HIS MOTHER'S VOICE. Phoenix Education.
- STAGELINES - WRITING SCRIPTS FOR THE THEATRE. Phoenix Education.
- THE MERRY WIDOW - Opera Australia
- THE NONSENSE BOY
- THE COBRA
- BURNT PIANO
- COUP d'ETAT & OTHER PLAYS
- INDIAN SUMMER
- The DEPARTMENT STORE
- BURNT PIANO
- LAID IN EARTH, (Queensland Music Festival 2009 - Music by Damian Barbeler)
- COUP d'ETAT
- HAROLD IN ITALY
- THE MYTH OF THE PASSIVE CITIZEN
- THE STARRY MESSENGER
- The COBRA
- HER HOLINESS - With Melvyn Morrow.
- TARTUFFE (THE HYPOCRITE)
- THE SCHOOL FOR WIVES
- HIS MOTHER'S VOICE
- A MOLIERE ANTHOLOGY
- STAGELINES: WRITING SCRIPTS FOR THE THEATRE.
- Lord Devil
- The Shedding
- The Tree House
- Dead Men Running
- Burnt Piano
- Justin Fleming on AustralianPlays
- Justin Fleming - writer profile from WritersNet
- Fleming's Papers at the State Library of New South Wales
- Fleming in the Catalogue of the National Library of Australia
- Fleming at the New York Public Library
- Justin Fleming play bundle on AustralianPlays
- Extract from Justin Fleming's The Vision Splendid at the Wayback Machine (archived 19 February 2011), a history of Sydney lawyers Carroll and O'Dea
- NLA record of French Translation of: Burnt piano in Justin Fleming's burnt piano and other plays at the Wayback Machine (archived 9 November 2012)
- Fleming, Justin (1953-) at NLA Trove