Christopher Columbus

by Louis MacNeice


Age Advice: Unknown

Christopher Columbus was produced by Theatre Centre in 1953-54. The play, by Louis MacNeice, was originally written for radio. The first performance of the radio play was given by the BBC on 12 October 1942, with Columbus played by Laurence Olivier.

In his introduction to the radio play script (published by Faber and Faber), MacNeice comments that “‘Creative’ works written for broadcasting … are heard once and no one has the chance to go back to them”, which perhaps goes some way to explaining how it came to be produced, over ten years after it was broadcast.

Writing on the subject of “Construction in Radio Drama”, MacNeice also comments that the radio writer “normally has a much narrower time-limit” than the playwright proper – “usually 30 to 60 minutes”. Again, this might explain why the radio play was suited to Theatre Centre’s purposes: to the present day, Theatre Centre shows are commissioned to run for 60 minutes.


The radio play script, held by the British Library, lists the characters as follows:

The Voice of Doubt, The Voice of Faith, José, Artur, Alfredo, Bartolomé, Carlos, Francisco, Brother Pedro, Prior, Columbus, Antonio, The Herald, Talavera, Medina-Celi, Medina-Sidonia, Mendoza, 1st Lackey, 2nd Lackey, Marquesa, Queen Isabella, Diego de Deza, Manuel, Tapstress, Juan, Beatriz, A Waiting Woman, Observer, Vasco, Luis, A Town Crier, Martín Pinzón, A Storekeeper, A Servant, A Sailor’s Voice 1, A Sailor’s Voice 2, Mate, A Woman, Spokesman of Crew, Gutiérrez, Sánchez, Vincente Pinzón, Escovedo, Segovia, Hidalgo, A Peasant, A Cleric, An Onlooker, Spokesman of the Procession

Creative Team

Writer: Louis MacNeice

The information on this page has been gathered from archive materials and is incomplete. Do you have more information about this play, or were you involved in its production? Let us know by leaving a comment below or contacting us.

A copy of the script (for the original radio play only) is held by the British Library.

Join our Mailing List

If you would like to receive our regular newsletter, with information about Theatre Centre productions, tours, projects and opportunities, please fill in the form on the right.

We are committed to keeping your data safe and we will only ever email you information that you have agreed to receive and will never share your email with anyone else.