Watershed: The Death of Dr Duncan

2 March – 8 March 2022

Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre


A soaring new oratorio commemorating 50 years since the infamous drowning of Dr George Ian Ogilvie Duncan.

Dr Duncan

Watershed: The Death of Dr Duncan is an operatic oratorio composed by Joseph Twist with a libretto by Alana Valentine and Christos Tsiolkas which will premiere at the Adelaide Festival of Arts in March 2022

Fusing inquest transcripts, press clippings, private correspondence, real and imagined monologues spanning five decades of anti-gay violence, and 30 years of research by local historian Tim Reeves, this joint commission between Adelaide Festival, Feast Festival and State Opera South Australia demands the embrace of all thinking audiences, but is of special importance to this city.

Dr. George Duncan (20 July 1930 – 10 May 1972) was an Australian law lecturer at the University of Adelaide who drowned in 1972 after being thrown into the River Torrens by a group of men believed to be police officers. Public outrage generated by the murder became the trigger for homosexual law reform which led to South Australia becoming the first Australian state to decriminalise homosexuality.

Watershed: The Death of Dr Duncan has been co-commissioned by Feast Festival, Adelaide Festival and State Opera South Australia, supported by Arts South Australia. Presented in association with Feast Festival. Generously supported by the Adelaide Festival’s Commissioning Circle, Sidney Myer Fund and Nunn Dimos Foundation.