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David Perry

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David Perry was one of the British theatre's most influential and vibrant teachers. Over 40 years, he directed and taught classical acting throughout the world and brought to the fore many of the stage's outstanding actors.

Born in Redhill, Surrey, on September 27, 1928, he was educated at Wandsworth Grammar School. He went on to King's College, London, to study French language and literature and while at the University of Montpellier, was awarded a scholarship by the French government to study dramatic art at the Conservatoire de Paris and Theatre National Populaire in Paris. Much of his later influence as a teacher he attributed to observing the TNP at work.

On his return to Britain, he acted in repertory at Bristol Old Vic, the Theatre Royal York, the Queens, Hornchurch, and eventually he became artistic director at the Arts Theatre, Ipswich.

In 1966 he became a resident tutor and director at RADA and for the next 19 years was a mentor to many young students who became Britain's leading actors.

During this period he was invited to guest direct productions with many international theatre companies such as the Spanish National Theatre, the International Theatre, Teheran, and many in the US and Canada.

From 1985 onwards, he continued his teaching career at the Guildford School of Dance and Drama, LAMDA, the Welsh College of Music and Drama and various universities in America and Europe. He held his final Shakespeare course in 2001 in the former Yugoslavia.

He suffered from diabetes throughout his life and in his final years was mainly bedridden, although he still taught occasionally from home. He remained in his much-loved Wimbledon flat until having to move into a nursing home. He died in hospital on May 23, 2008.

David will be remembered as a demanding, observant and inspiring teacher. He was a master of style, with a fastidious ear for the music and rhythms of speech. The influence of his French training left an indelible mark on his unique approach to drama training - an unshakeable belief that it was form that revealed the content. This emphasis, whether on the verse form or the social form of the period, was underpinned by a demand for emotional truth and, whenever possible, its accompanying humour.

Madeline Cannon

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