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Doone, Rupert (1903-1966)  
page: 1  2  

He did, however, have a dancing role in James Bridie's Tobias and the Angel. Medley recalled the dance as a "brief but spectacular moment" that earned Doone the enthusiastic approval of audiences and the respect of the other members of the company for his ideas and theatrical discipline.

In 1932 Doone was invited to choreograph a ballet for the recently-formed Vic-Wells Ballet. To the music of Ravel's Le Tombeau de Couperin, he created The Enchanted Grove, a work of great originality. Dame Ninette de Valois, one of the principal dancers along with Anton Dolin and Alicia Markova, recalled that she "adored" her role in the ballet and found Doone brilliant but demanding to work with.

Also in 1932, Doone and Medley formed the Group Theatre. Medley described Doone's vision for it as "a creative theatre, in which collaboration [among directors, actors, designers, musicians and others] would lead to a new sort of expression unknown in English theatre at that time."

They approached young poet W. H. Auden about providing an original work, and in 1933 he wrote a multi-media piece, The Dance of Death. In the 1934 production of the work, Doone appeared as "Death the Dancer." The production was enthusiastically received by audiences and recognized, as Medley put it, as "something quite new and vital to the English stage."

Auden subsequently wrote several plays with Christopher Isherwood that were produced at the Group Theatre. Doone directed and produced these works--The Dog Beneath the Skin (1936), The Ascent of F6 (1937), and On the Frontier (1939)--and Medley served as the principal set designer.

The Group Theatre also featured the earliest works of Benjamin Britten, T.S. Eliot's Sweeney Agonistes (1935), and plays by Stephen Spender and Louis MacNiece. Other contributors to the Group Theatre included William Butler Yeats, Duncan Grant, Havelock Ellis, Richard Masefield, Harold Nicolson, Anton Dolin, and Mary Skeaping.

The beginning of World War II in 1939 brought an end to the heyday of the Group Theatre, which closed down for the duration of the war. Doone stayed in London, contributing to the development of a theater school at Morley College, while Medley volunteered for service in the armed forces, first as an official war artist and later as a member of the Royal Engineers working on camouflage.

The Group Theatre was revived in 1946 and continued productions until 1951 but never regained its former prominence.

Doone continued working at Morley College until 1962. He began suffering from a loss of motor control, which proved to be due to multiple sclerosis. He underwent electrical treatments to try to alleviate the condition, but to no avail.

Medley was frustrated in his efforts to care for Doone by a doctor who "saw no reason to discuss his patient's medical affairs with a person who had no legal rights to information." He was subsequently able to find another doctor, Bevan Pritchard, who respected their relationship.

In 1965 Medley retired from the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts, where he had taught since 1958, to care for Doone. In the fall of 1965, however, Doone required hospitalization. He died on March 3, 1966.

In his memoir Drawn from Life (1983), Medley wrote of Doone, "To all things, personal and professional, Rupert brought an irrepressible enthusiasm for life, and a sense of humour that was positively bucolic, and sometimes rumbustious; for those who knew and loved him best it is the sheer fun of his company that is most immediately remembered. He was the wind that stirred and ruffled the waters."

Linda Rapp

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Medley, Robert. Drawn from Life. London: Faber and Faber, 1983.

Morris, Geraldine. "The Story of Rupert Doone." Dancing Times 75 (April 1984): 580-582.

Wentinck, A.M. "Doone, Rupert." Who's Who in Gay & Lesbian History from Antiquity to World War II. Robert Aldrich and Garry Wotherspoon, eds. London and New York: Routledge, 2001. 132-133.


    Citation Information
    Author: Rapp, Linda  
    Entry Title: Doone, Rupert  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated August 4, 2004  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, Inc.  


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