Obituary: Professor Hugh Hunt

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The Independent Online
READING the excellent obituary of Hugh Hunt (by Allan Davis and Christopher Baugh, 1 May), I was taken with the sentence 'he was unwilling to reveal starry indiscretions to which he was privy' and I was reminded of the time in 1933-34 when Hunt was at the Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich, writes John Gregory.

In his first months with the Norwich Players he revealed himself as a very fine character actor, playing the part of Torvald in The Doll's House with great distinction, and he was a marvellously rustic Old Shepherd in The Winter's Tale.

A very shy, elusive man, Hunt did not like acting, and only accepted parts to prove his abilities. He soon became bored with studies; he wanted practical experience without interference, and offered Nugent Monck pounds 500 to take a holiday abroad for six months, leaving him in sole charge of his theatre. It was an unheard-of thing for Monck to allow anyone else to direct, or to leave his Elizabethan Theatre which he had created with such love and care, in the hands of an untried newcomer. It was something of a shock to the Players; but Hunt made good.

During his short period at Norwich he put a charge of new life into the Maddermarket, producing a variety of plays with relaxed expertise, forming a youth group, and teaching English Folk Dance. (I had my first dancing lesson with him.) He went on to the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, developing his power with quiet stealth. The rest is history; but what is remarkable is that this clever yet self-effacing man could, without any flamboyance, make his cultured mark in the highest realm of drama in England and Australia. A book about his strange life would make compulsive reading.