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Group Theatre, The

The Dance of Death, Sweeney Agonistes, Trial of a Judge, Agamemnon, Out of the Picture

company auden performances doone

an experimental theatre company begun in 1932 by Rupert Doone to provide a focus for the activities of various actors, writers, and producers who were dissatisfied with the possibilities afforded by London's existing commercial facilities. The venture was also committed to working in broad alignment with the socialist doctrines pervasive in the arts during the 1930s. Doone, a ballet dancer and choreographer who had worked with Diaghilev and Cocteau in Paris, was assisted by the painter Robert Medley, the schoolfriend of W. H. Auden's who had prompted him to become a poet in 1922, in organizing the basic membership. A commission to Auden eventually resulted in The Dance of Death (1933), which was given trial performances in 1934 and produced at the Westminster Theatre with T. S. Eliot's Sweeney Agonistes in 1935. Eminent among the other poets involved were Stephen Spender, whose Trial of a Judge (1938) the company produced, and Louis Mac-Neice, who supplied his translation of Agamemnon (1936) and Out of the Picture (1937). W. B. Yeats and Eliot, who had written The Rock (1934) in association with members of the Group, led attempts to secure the Mercury Theatre, Notting Hill Gate, for performances after 1935; The Ascent of F6 (1936), one of the company's three plays by Auden and Isherwood, was highly successful when staged there. The graphic artists associated with the theatre included Henry Moore and John Piper. Benjamin Britten composed incidental music for numerous productions. Having disbanded in 1939, the Group was revived from 1950 to 1954, their performances of Sartre's The Flies (1946) in 1951 being among the more memorable of later productions.

Frederick Philip Grove Biography - (1879–1948), In Search of Myself, Over Prairie Trails, Settlers of the Marsh, Our Daily Bread [next] [back] Group Theatre - (1931–41), The House of Connelly, Success Story, Man in White, Waiting for Lefty, Awake and Sing!

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