Archive of the month: the drama societies

'Dadie' Rylands as the Duchess of Malfi, 1924 (GHWR/5/87)

'Dadie' Rylands as the Duchess of Malfi, 1924

The August Archive of the month looks at the King's drama societies of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The College had a thriving drama scene that included the ghost writer MR James, the poet Rupert Brooke and the Shakespeare scholar and theatre director Dadie Rylands.

Rylands not only directed productions at King's but also the productions of the university drama society, the Marlowe Dramatic Society. This society influenced a generation of British theatre actors and directors.

You can see photos of these early plays at King's, including Rylands as the Duchess of Malfi. Women were not allowed in university plays at the time, and it is said that his experience in playing female roles in Elizabethan drama gave him a special insight when later directing these roles.

Twenty years later he directed an acclaimed production of The Duchess of Malfi at the Theatre Royal in London, for example, with his friend Dame Peggy Ashcroft as the Duchess.

This Archive of the month is the second in a three-part series about the clubs and societies of King's. The first was about the debating societies of King's. See the Archive of the month.

Posted: 

2 August 2012