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Michael Boddy Michael Boddy i(A25422 works by)
Born: Established: 8 Mar 1934
United Kingdom (UK),
Western Europe, Europe,
; Died: Ceased: 13 Apr 2014
Gender: Male
Arrived in Australia: 1959
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Educated at Cambridge University, England, where he met his first wife, Margaret Scott, Michael Boddy emigrated to Australia in 1959. After settling first in Hobart, Tasmania, where he taught English at the Hobart Matriculation College, Boddy moved to Sydney, becoming heavily involved in the city's theatre industry during the 1960s. He also appeared in several films, notably They Found a Cave (1962) in which he played the character Sgt. Bentley, and Age of Consent (1969) which starred James Mason and Helen Mirren.

As a playwright his most well-known production, The Legend of King O'Malley (co-written with Bob Ellis) was also his first. After premiering in 1970 the play won for Boddy and Ellis the 1970 James Cook Bicentennial Play Competition prize. That same year the Nimrod Theatre Company staged its first production, Biggles, which was co-authored by Boddy, Ron Blair and Marcus Cooney. The following year Boddy's Hamlet on Ice was staged to much critical acclaim.

During the early 1970s Boddy began writing a number of educational plays for children, based on the works of Shakespeare, and he later collaborated with Marcus Cooney on several historical plays and melodramas. Boddy's adaptation of Norman Lindsay's A Curate in Bohemia was also produced in 1972 as part of the ABC Television's Norman Lindsay Festival.

Boddy's play Cradle of Hercules, produced by the Old Tote theatre company in 1974 was significant for giving an aboriginal actor, Jack Charles, the lead role - one of the first such opportunities for indigenous actors in Australian theatre history. During the late 1970s Boddy concentrated on writing for the Music Hall Theatre in Sydney, producing an array of melodramas such as Lust for Power, or, Perils At Parramatta (1977) and Crushed By Desire (1978). Boddy has won several awards for his work including two Australian Writer's Guild Awards, the Erik Kuttner Award (1965) and the Producers and Directors Guild of Australia Award (1971).

Boddy is also the author of works on food and home economics, A Businessman's Guide to Wine (1971), Michael Boddy's Good Food Book (1984) and Surviving in the Eighties (1980), the latter co-written with Richard Beckett and illustrated by his wife, artist Janet Dawson Boddy.

Most Referenced Works

Awards for Works

y separately published work icon The Legend of King O'Malley 1970 (Manuscript version)x400882 Z247318 1970 single work musical theatre humour

A music theatre burlesque based on the real life King O'Malley, a Texan born banker, real estate salesman, insurance agent, and founder of a religious movement, who came to Australia in 1893 under the belief that he was dying of consumption. After arriving at Emu Bay, Queensland, O'Malley spent some two years living in a cave before eventually walking from Rockhampton, seemingly cured of the disease, all the way to Adelaide. He became the MHA of Encounter Bay (South Australia) up until 1899, then a member of the House of Representatives (1901-17), in addition to undertaking the position of Minister for Home Affairs (1910-13, 1915-16). He retired from politics in 1917. O'Malley is also recognised for his role in opening the trans-continental railway and for his significant input into Labour reform and social legislation during the early decades of the twentieth century.

Ellis and Boddy portray O'Malley as a doubtful, though likeable/heroic, character whose early schemes are seen to mock several social institutions. In the first part of the play we encounter the loud-mouthed O'Malley leaving for Australia (accompanied by Mr Angel, a devil who acts as his spirit of conscience). In line with the real historical account O'Malley is also seen befriending the aborigines and standing for parliament. In the second part a debate begins between O'Malley and Billy Hughes, with the visionary O'Malley battling for several future initiatives, while Hughes argues for conscription. At this point the ensemble of actors take on a variety of roles, notably embers of parliament, as they satirise the image of these 'honourable representatives of government'.

The Legend Of King O'Malley has been described by Leonard Radic as : 'a rumbustious piece of musical theatre... [drawing] consciously on the traditions of panto, music hall, revue and vaudeville. The script [includes] hymns, songs, a revivalist meeting and a pageant or two... the result was a piece of pastiche theatre which explored its subject with larrikin abandon, and without concessions to good taste or manners' (State of Play 1991, p70). The musical element of the play, according to its authors, is 'a bit of a grab-bag. This is not a musical,' they write in the 1974 Angus and Robertson edition, ' it is a play with music.... use as few or as many of the [songs] as you like; and put in your own favourites if you wish. "Happy Land," "In the Service of the King," and "Hold the Fort," should be used where marked" (xxii). Other songs suggested, and which were used in the original Jane Street production include: 'I Surrender All', 'Go Little Pennies', 'Wonderful Words of Life', 'Lead on King Eternal', 'I've Found a Friend', 'Go Tell it to Jesus', 'What a Friend', 'Hey There! You're an Australian', and 'Onward Christian Soldiers'.

1971 winner AWGIE Awards Major Award
1971 winner AWGIE Awards Stage Award
1970 joint winner Captain Cook Bicentenary Awards Drama Section

Known archival holdings

The NFSA hold scripts written by Boddy. National Film and Sound Archive (aka ScreenSound Australia) (ACT)
Holdings include documentation, the Archibald Prize winning portrait of Michael Boddy by his wife, Janet Dawson, and a digitised copy of the rehearsal script for A Curate in Bohemia.
National Archives of Australia National Archives Library (ACT)
Last amended 19 Jul 2014 22:31:02
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