In 1945 Peter Daubeny, a one-armed ex-serviceman with a love of the theatre, mounted his first two productions in the West End. They were less than successful, but despite this setback he knew that he belonged in the theatre. He was right. In the face of tremendous difficulties, Daubeny revolutionised British performance in the post-War decades.
Beginning with a year-long lease of the Cambridge Theatre in 1951-2, he brought a wealth of international performance to the London stage. First he brought dancers from Spain, India and America. Then he widened his focus to acting companies.
The companies Daubeny brought to London ranged from Russian and Japanese puppeteers to internationally renowned companies such as the Comédie-Française. He brought important practitioners such as Martha Graham and Ingmar Bergman.
Most of all, he exposed London to dramatic traditions from such countries as Greece, Poland and Japan, as well as to such techniques as the Method.
Sometimes Daubeny was as much diplomat as impresario, relying on a network of contacts in government and the entertainment world. He negotiated tours by the Peking Opera, the Moscow Art Theatre and the Berliner Ensemble.
His ultimate achievement however was the World Theatre Seasons at the Aldwych Theatre, showcasing companies from Europe, Asia, Africa and North America.
On this tour we see some of the many theatres Daubeny used to stage a huge variety of productions. We consider his triumphs – and his failures.
The tour is illustrated with readings from Daubeny’s reminiscences ‘My World of Theatre’. Published in 1971, they give a unique insight into London’s theatrical scene in the post-War decades.
Details – Peter Daubeny’s World of Theatre
Please go to What’s On? to see whether this tour is currently on offer, and for booking details.
MEET: In front of the church of St Anselm and St Cecilia, Kingsway (turn left outside Holborn Underground Station)
Duration: Two hours (approximately)
If you have any questions about this walk, please contact me
Pictures sourced from Wikimedia Commons