Peter Carroll

Honorary Doctor of Creative Arts

Citation delivered by Professor Gerard Sutton, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wollongong on the occasion of the admission of Peter Carroll to the degree of Doctor of Creative Arts (honoris causa) on 31 August 2003.


Chancellor I present Peter John Carroll.

Peter Carroll was born in Sydney and educated by the Marist Brothers during the 1950s, an era he was later to recall in his celebrated role in the play, ‘The Christian Brothers’. Peter went on to play a part in the larger drama that was the renaissance of the Australian Theatre in the 1960s and 70s and he has known the great characters in the arts over the last 40 years. A talented and gracious man, he has dedicated himself to his profession, to his colleagues and, like the University itself, to enriching minds and encouraging potential.

Peter Carroll shares a common academic background with the graduates here today from three different Faculties. He studied Arts and Law at the University of Sydney and Speech and Drama at the Central School in London. He has a Diploma in Education from Sydney and an Honours Master of Arts from the University of New South Wales. The thread connecting all these fields is the exploration and love of language, - its structures, riches and its authority to please, persuade and teach.

Peter Carroll has an exceptional love and affinity for the English language and for its Australian idiom. He has used it to entertain and challenge us in performances of Shakespeare’s plays, in the modern Australian dramas of Williamson, Blair, Enright and Kenna, and in musical theatre. He has appeared in the best of Australian television, in shows such as The Sullivans, Changi, Grass Roots and The Dismissal, and in film. His extraordinary repertoire in words and music runs also to film, opera and cabaret. Peter’s many awards include: the Variety Club Award for “Musical Theatre Actor of the Year” for Sweeney Todd; the Sydney Theatre Critics’ Circle Award for a “Significant Contribution to Sydney Theatre”; and the Green Room Award for “Best Actor” for Polonius in Hamlet. In 2001, he won the MO Award for his signature play “The Christian Brothers” and this year received the Helpmann Award for “Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role in a Play” for Endgame.

Peter was one of a company of master players and directors who issued in the “new wave” in Australian Theatre. He was part of the pioneering days at the Nimrod Theatre. He continues to show that zest for innovation and for harnessing the energy of young actors. He recently agreed to be the patron of a new postgraduate initiative in the University’s Faculty of Creative Arts, bringing to it his special brand of encouragement, the model of a true professional and the favour of his highly respected name.

Peter Carroll’s passion is not confined to the stage. He cares about his fellow artists and their welfare. He has held office in Actors’ Equity and chaired the National Performance Conference and the Federal Actors’ Council. He has a deep commitment to the principles of tolerance, cooperation and social justice, which are part of this University’s own charter. Peter is also a Board member of SBS television, enjoying the promotion of other languages and cultures.

Chancellor, Peter Carroll’s life is written on a broad canvass. He gives this University and our graduates, the example of someone who appreciates their world and its gifts, is true to their beliefs and works to fulfil their promise. In his art and in his dealings with others, Peter Carroll has taken his cue from Hamlet’s advice to the Player King:

use all gently;
for in the very torrent, tempest, and, as I may say,
the whirlwind of passion, you must acquire and beget
a temperance that may give it smoothness

(William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act III, Scene 2)

Today, we applaud Peter’s achievement and his generosity of spirit.

It is my great privilege to present Peter John Carroll for the award of Doctor of Creative Arts, honoris causa.