Dukes, Ashley (1885-1959) by Gaipa, Mark

Ashley Dukes 1885-1959 Theater manager, playwright, drama critic. Dukes was an active presence in English theater for over half a century. Born in Bridgwater, Somersetshire—in Southwest England—Dukes was the son of a minister, the Reverend E. J. Dukes. He graduated from the Silcoates School, and also from Manchester University with a degree in science. After his schooling, Dukes became a university lecturer in science in London, as well as a member of the Fabian society; but his attraction to theater, which had begun in his late teens and was later honed by the experimental theater of Maeterlinck and D’Annunzio, soon convinced him to leave his job—and England—for Germany in September 1907, where Dukes sought post-graduate work in Munich. After a stay of two years, he returned to England with a Continental point of view and a depth of knowledge about European drama that would inform his professional interests for the rest of his life. Upon returning to England, Dukes also became the regular drama critic for . His association with the paper actually began two years earlier, when he contributed an article () to the new series’ inaugural volume; Dukes also contributed a handful of articles to the paper while living overseas. But the bulk of his contributions—which number nearly 70 articles over a five year period—occurred between 1909 and 1911, when the young Dukes (in his mid twenties) wrote a drama review nearly every week for volumes 6-8. Years later, Dukes boasted that the 10 shillings he received each week for his review was the only payment that Orage ever made to a regular contributor of the paper. The New Age Pomp and Pageantry In 1910, Dukes had a play of his, , produced for the first time by the Stage Society. In 1924, he wrote the drama for which he is most admired, the comedy . However, Dukes found success in the theater not as an original playwright but rather as a producer and, especially, adapter of French and German drama to the English stage. In 1933 Dukes used his own earnings to construct and manage a small playhouse called the Mercury Theatre, which specialized in modern drama and adaptations of foreign plays. Dukes championed verse drama in both his writing and in the performances he staged at the Mercury; Eliot’s was one of his productions in 1935. Dukes also brought ballet to the Mercury, and for ten years he collaborated with his wife, Marie Rambert, who had danced in Diaghilev’s company and now acted as artistic director of the Ballet Club. In 1937 the Royal Society of Literature honored Dukes by making him professor of drama. Civil War The Man With a Load of Mischief Murder in the Cathedral Besides his journalism for , Dukes wrote drama criticism for , , and . He also acted as English editor at , an American journal. Other plays that Dukes wrote or adapted include: (1920), (1926), (1927), (1934), (1934), and (1958). His books include (1911), (1923), (1928), and (1929). In 1942, Dukes wrote his autobiography, . The New Age Vanity Fair Star Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News Theatre Arts Monthly From Morn to Midnight Song of Drums One More River The Dumb Wife of Cheapside Squaring the Circle Return to Dane’s Hill Modern Dramatists The Youngest Drama: studies of fifty dramatists The World to Play With Tradition and Experiment in Present Day Literature The Scene Is Changed —Mark Gaipa Sources , volume 110 (1981) Contemporary Authors (1979) Obituaries from the Times: 1951-1960 , Fourth Edition (1983). The Oxford Companion to the Theatre

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