Additional papers of Robert Medley


collection owner: Robert Medley, ‘Additional papers of Robert Medley’ [c.1903]–1984

Charles Robert Owen Medley CBE, RA, (1905-94), known as Robert Medley, was an English artist who painted in both abstract and figurative styles, and who also worked as a theatre designer. Robert Medley studied art at the Slade School of Fine Art and then completed his training by spending two years in Paris from 1926 to 1928. In 1926 Medley had first met his partner with whom he spent the rest of this life with, dancer, choreographer and theatre director, Rupert Doone (1903-66). It was the beginning of a long and loving relationship, and one in which inspired and nourished their artistic talents. Doone was born in Worcestershire in 1903. He left home penniless at age 16 to pursue his passion for dance as a career, travelling first to London and later Paris, where he became the protégé and lover of Jean Cocteau. Together, Doone and Medley founded the Group Theatre in 1931. This experimental group allowed Doone the opportunity to explore what he considered theatre should really concern itself with; to 'put art first as a way of discovering truth' and commit to 'total theatre' with a focus on poetic drama. The group strove to work closely with writers, artists and musicians and a 1934 performance of The Dance of Death written by W.H Auden was a controversial success. T.S. Eliot, Christopher Isherwood and Stephen Spender would all later write plays for the group to work with. These photographs show the group engaging in free improvisation at their summer school in Suffolk as well as in costume for a number of their productions. This collection compliments an earlier collection, TGA 894 (also digitised), which contains photographs of Robert Medley and further photographs of the Group Theatre.

Collection Owner
Robert Medley 1905–1994
Tate Archive
Gift from Susie Medley, executrix of the estate of Robert Medley.
TGA 953

36 objects in this collection

Material relating to the Group Theatre
The Group Theatre was an experimental theatre company founded in 1932 by Robert Medley and Rupert Doone.
TGA 953/3

Showing 18 objects