1903-1982 [Hilton Robert Edwards]; b. 2 Feb. 1903, London, son of Thomas George Cecil Edwards and Emily Edwards (born Murphy); ed. Finchley Grammar School, and St Aloysius School, Highgate; joined Dorans Shakespearean Co. in 1920, and toured Ireland for two years; joined Old Vic.; toured Ireland with his br-in-law Anew McMaster, and was introduced to Micheál MacLiammóir [q.v.] at the Athenaeum, Enniscorthy, Co, Wexford, 1927 - becoming life-partners; fnd. Gate Theatre in 1928 with MacLiammóir (I dont care about nationalism, I care about the theater) - opening with Peer Gynt in Abbey St., 19 Oct 1928; produced more than three hundred plays;the pair opened the Irish-language theatre An Taibhdhearc (Galway) with Mac Liammóirs version Diarmuid agus Gráinne; Edwards directed Shaws Heartbreak House at the Gate, 1971, also taking the role of Captain Shotover;
his film appearances include Return to Glenascaul, From Time to Time, and Hamlet at Elsinore; he appeared in Orson Welless prod. of Othello and Bryan Forbess The Wrong Box; appt. Head of Drama RTÉ, 1961-63; winner of a Jacobs Award for his TV series Self Portrait, 1962; his successful production of Philadelphia, Here I Come! by Brian Friel [q.v.] for the Dublin Th. Fest., 1964 was revived at the Gate in the following year and transferred to Broadway (NY) where it was nominated for a Tony Award in 1966 as Best Director; produced and played the title role in Conor Cruise OBriens Herod, performed in the Green Room of the Gate, 1973; they settled from the start at Harcourt Terrace. DIB DIH FDA
Filmography: he appeared in several 15 films, including Captain Lightfoot (1955), David and Goliath (1960), Victim (1961) and Half a Sixpence (1967); wrote and directed Orson Welless Return to Glennascaul (1951)
Bibliography: Christopher Fitzsimon, The Boys: A Biography of Micheál MacLiammóir and Hilton Edwards (London: Nick Hern ), 320pp., ill.; Anthony Roche, Brian Friel: Theatre and Politics (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan 2011), ix, 235pp. [chapter on Edwards and remarks passim -see extract.]
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Gate Theatre production withdrawn, in Belfast Newsletter (25 May 1955):
Changes in the programmes of the Gate Theatre company at the Grand Opera, House, Belfast, were announced last night.
Elmer Rices Not for Children will be taken off after to-nights performance. It will be replaced during the remaining three nights of this week by Maura Lavertys Liffey Lane, with which the company opened its present visit to Belfast.
The Masquerade, by Pirandello, which was to have been presented next week has also been withdrawn. It will be replaced by Maura Lavertys Tolka Row, which the company presented when in Belfast last year.
Arrangements are being made for the props for Tolka Row to be brought from Dublin by road.
Referring to the changes in programmes, Mr. George Lodge, managing director of the Grand Opera House, told the NewsLetter last night that Not for Children had been very badly received in Belfast.
We have had walks-out galore, he went on, and I do not want the public to have to stand for something that they do not want.
Mr. Lodge added: I have no objections to experiments in the presenting of plays, as long as John Citizen wants to go and pay to see them.
Speaking on the history of the Gate Theatre at a meeting of the Young Ulster Society in the Union Hotel, Belfast, last night, Mr. Hilton Edwards, Gate Theatre producer, said:-
If people walk out to of Not for Children they are going to be bored stiff with Pirandellos play, which he described as a very obscure play in difficult prose (translated by Michael MacLiammoir from the Italian).
Mr. Edwards said that when he founded the Gate he set out to create a theatrical conscience in Dublin. I do not know to this day whether I was right or not, he continued.
I tried to do it in Belfast this week, but was slain for it. I realise that I am far too early, and that is why I am not putting on the Pirandello play next week.
I tried it with Michael MacLiammoirs play last week, and people were bored by it. I have tried it again this week, and they are even more bored. he said.
|Success in Dublin
Mr. Edwards said that Not for Children had failed in New York. It had never been played in London, but it, had succeeded enormously twice in Dublin. In the South, he went on, we have a well-fed man who wanted a tit-bit, but here you have a hungry man who wants a hunk of beef[.] You must not offer him a caviare sandwich.
Thank God you are hungry, he declared. I have made the mistake of inviting you to afternoon tea instead of dinner. That was a mistake on my part. It is nothing against Belfast for not liking the play.
Mr. Edwards said he pleaded guilty to a suggestion that he had made a mistake in bringing the Elmer Rice play to such a large threatre [sic]. But, I am pleading, not to defend myself, but Mr. Rice.
What they had always tried to do in the Gate was to experiment and change, Mr. Edwards said.
Why should we pay money to see your experiments? you may ask. I do not know. Why should you pay to see people repeating themselves over and over again, like somebody with the hiccoughs, he added. [End].
—Cutting in papers of Sybil Le Brocquy in posssession of RICORSO Editor.
See also Talking to Hilton Edwards, in The Irish Times (1 Dec. 1962) [Talking to .. column] - rep. in Irish Times (1 Dec. 2012), Weekend, p.6. Viz., response to questions, [...] how did you first become involved in the theatre?, [... was it while you were with this company [Doran Shakespearean Co.][ that you first came to Ireland?, Why did you leave the Old Vic?, and How did you come to settle in Ireland?
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Eleanor Blau, Hilton Edwards [...] Founder of Theater in Dublin.
(NY Times, 20 Nov. 1982) - Obituaries:
Hilton Edwards, the actor and director who founded the Dublin Gate Theater with Micheal MacLiammoir in 1928, died Thursday in a Dublin hospital. He was 79 years old.
Mr. Edwards, who was born in London, produced and directed more than 300 plays at the Gate, ranging from the works of Aeschylus and Sophocles, Goethe and Ibsen to the comedies of Shaw and Sheridan and new Irish plays, by such authors as W.B. Yeats, Brian Friel and Mr. MacLiammoir.
As an actor Mr. Edwards played leading parts, including the title roles in Peer Gynt, Cyrano de Bergerac and Macbeth and Sheridan Whiteside in The Man Who Came To Dinner. On Broadway in 1966, Mr. Edwards directed Mr. Friels Philadelphia, Here I Come! and The Loves of Cass McGuire.
He began his career acting with the Charles Doran Shakespeare Company in 1920 in Windsor and then joined the Old Vic in London, playing in all but two of Shakespeares plays before leaving the company a few years later. Trained in music, he also sang baritone roles with the Old Vic Opera company. Ireland for a Season
After touring with various companies in Britain and South Africa, he went to Ireland in 1927 for a season with Anew McMasters company and met Mr. McMasters brother-in-law, Micheal MacLiammoir. As he told an interviewer once, both men wanted a theater of their own; Mr. MacLiammoir wanted it to be in Ireland and Mr. Edwards did not care. I dont care about nationalism, I care about the theater, he said.
The two mens talents were complementary. Mr. MacLiammoir was an actor, designer and writer; Mr. Edwards a director, actor, producer and lighting designer.
In New York in 1948 he played in and directed John Bulls Other Island and directed The Old Lady Says No and Where Stars Walk. In the early 1960s Mr. Edwards took a two-year leave from the Gate to become drama director of Irelands first television station. He appeared in and directed films and also appeared on television in roles including Mr. Micawber in David Copperfield.
—Available at New York Times Archive - online [accessed 07.04.2017]; orig. edition incls. photo-port of Edwards.
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