Donald Inskip

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Donald Inskip. (1906-1989) An influential theatre critic, administrator and advisor on theatre matters. He also produced, acted and translated plays from the French.


He first arrived in Cape Town on the Balmoral Castle in March 1932 to take up a post at the University of Cape Town. The first play he attended at the Little Theatre, of which he subsequently became the Director, was Hotel Universe by Philip Barry on 14 September 1932.




In 1932 he was appointed at the University of Cape Town, later becoming professor and chairman of the French department.

He served on the Little Theatre Committee since June 1936 and he became director of it in July 1937 and a member of its board. As director he lobbied for a new theatre committee to deal more strongly with the issues facing the theatre. He also gives the University Dramatic Society a student representative in the new committee, and later becomes Honorary President of the student society.

A longtime chairman of the Cape Town Repertory Theatre Society and member of the Johannesburg (?*) REPS, he was instrumental in bringing Leontine Sagan to South Africa in 1939. In January 1947 was made a member of a sub-committee of the National Council for Adult Education, intended to study theatre matters. It further consisted of P.P.B. Breytenbach (chair), Anna Neethling-Pohl, Myles Bourke, and Steve Naudé (secretary), and submitted a proposal for a state-funded theatre to the government. This evenually led to the establishment of the National Theatre Organisation (NTO) in 1947, with Inskip a member of the first board. * He also served on the Cape Performing Arts Board’s board and the judges panel for the Three Leaf Awards, (later the Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards ).

In 1960 he was appointed in the newly created post of Deputy Principle of UCT, though retaining his directorship of the Little Theatre, but was henceforth not able to give time to acting or producing.

In 1977 he became the co-founder of The Company of Four.

Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

Some of his roles on stage were in Arms and the Man (1941), The Madwoman of Chaillot (1951), The Government Inspector in 1952 and in 1955 he played "Lucky" in Waiting for Godot.

Among the plays he translated are Giraudoux’s Intermezzo and Bernanos’s Dialogues of the Carmelites (The Chosen of God) from the original French into English.

He produced Les Jours Heureux and The Wind and the Rain at the Little Theatre in 1943 and in December 1944 The Springtime of Others.

He wrote two valuable books on theatre, namely a history of the Little Theatre (Forty Little Years) and a biography of Leonard Schach (Stage by Stage).

Awards, etc

In 1986 he received the Fleur du Cap Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the industry.


Tucker, 1997. 19, 32.

Du Toit, P.J., 1988.

Inskip, Donald P., 1972.

[TH, JH, FdV]

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