Gabriel Toyne

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(1905-1963) British poet, actor, fight director, designer and director.


Born in London on April 5, 1905, he spent some of his childhood years in India, where he learnt Indian languages and dialects. He went to Oxford University in 1925 and became an active member and later president of OUDS (Oxford University Dramatic Society). He met and married Margaret Rawlings and they went into theatre. After a run of successful plays in the provinces, they toured the colonies in the 1930s. On their return to England they parted ways, and he became an actor-manager in provincial theatre. He was also a master swordsman and trained many actors, including Errol Flynn, John Gielgud, and others.

In 1941 he married Diana Beaumont, and then went to India as a major in an Anglo-Indian Gurkha regiment, finally becoming a prisoner of war of the Japanese Army and put to hard labor on the Burma Railroad. Between 1947-49 Gabriel and Diana toured the British Empire with their company the British Repertory Players, and on their return they managed the Theatre Royal, Stratford East (London) for a while.

His mastery of swordmanship and fighting led to a series of films over the years, including The Buccaneers (1956); The Gay Cavalier (1957), The Adventures of Sir Lancelot (1956) and Kill Me Tomorrow (1957).

He died on December 28, 1963 (age 58) in Ibiza, Spain

Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

He and his company, the British Repertory Players,visited South Africa in 1949-50, and during which time he appeared in The Shop at Sly Corner and Edward My Son (which he also directed and designed) for the Brian Brooke Company.


Hawthorne, 2002

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