|AdminHistory||Arthur John Perry (1906 - 1995), actor, playwright, theatrical agent: born Woodruff, Co Tipperary 7 May 1906; died Cambridge 16 February 1995. He was one of the last surviving members of H.M. Tennent Ltd - "the Firm", as it was known - which under the management of Hugh "Binkie" Beaumont dominated the West End and provincial theatres for more than 30 years. Founded in 1936, it flourished during the Second World War, and in the course of its existence produced over 400 plays, musicals, intimate revues and revivals of the classics. The name came to symbolise excellence of style, presentation and casting, setting standards which were the envy and admiration of its competitors on both sides of the Atlantic.|
Perry was born at Woodruff, Co Tipperary, in 1906, and educated at Cheltenham College. He made his professional acting debut as Jack Chesney in Charlie's Aunt in 1928, joined the Florence Glossop-Harris company for a tour of Canada and the West Indies and then left the stage to concentrate on writing. Among his other plays and adaptations were Kate O'Brien's The Last of Summer (Phoenix, 1944), Francis Brett Young's A Man About the House (Piccadilly, 1945) and Elizabeth Bowen's Castle Anna (Lyric Hammersmith, 1948). Although he never took his acting seriously, Perry found his career cut short by the Second World War and he served in the RAF for the next five years. In 1943, with support from Anthony Quayle, he was appointed ADC to the Governor of Gibraltar, which prompted Beaumont to organise a visit to the Rock by an all-star concert party which included Gielgud, Vivien Leigh, Elisabeth Welch and Michael Wilding. When his service career ended, Perry joined Beaumont at the Globe Theatre and eventually became a director of H.M. Tennent. Tall, fair-haired and elegant, at home in Ireland Perry was the typical gentleman, riding to hounds (he was joint master of his local pack, near Clonmel) and a keen gardener.
In 1945 Rudolf Bing, then administrator of the Glyndebourne festival, invited Beaumont to join him, Tyrone Guthrie, administrator of the Old Vic, and Norman Higgins, of the Arts Theatre, Cambridge, to form what became known as the Company of Four. Its policy was to present new plays at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, and also to provide a showcase for actors returning from the services. After the usual uncertain start ("The Company of Four and the Audience of Two") and losses which led to the withdrawal of Glyndebourne and the Old Vic, Perry replaced Murray Macdonald, the original administrator, and the theatre began to build up a dazzling reputation as the foremost experimental theatre in London.