BROOKE, Rupert (1887-1915). Autograph letter signed to [Albert] Rothenstein, King's [College, Cambridge], 'Thursday' [June 1908], 2 pages, large 4to (280 x 225mm0, (splits at both edges in central horizontal fold and in bottom edge in vertical fold, slightly browned in upper half on recto, a few light spots).
RUPERT BROOKE'S PRODUCTION OF COMUS. The letter discusses in particular Rothenstein's designs for the sets, 'don't you think the forest ought to be a lot darker and more forest-y? The first scene, of course, takes place right in the centre of a thick pine forest, and they keep referring to it every few lines. "The nodding horror of those shady brows" ... Do you think you could get more of that spirit in it, more of the closeness and darkness and mystery with trees all round'; the letter also discusses the hire of the theatre, the involvement of 'Francis [sic] Darwin', dates for the work and the need to be 'as parsimonious about the scenery as we can!'.
In his second year at Cambridge Brooke was President of the newly formed Marlowe Dramatic Society. A production of the masque of Comus was planned at Christ's, Milton's old college, to celebrate his tercentenary, and Brooke, the 'harassed stage manager-cum-second lead actor chivvied his teams of seamstresses, scene painters and costume designers into ever greater efforts' (Nigel Jones. Rupert Brooke, 1999, p.73). Brooke's collaborator Frances Darwin, one of his circle of admiring women friends at Cambridge, became exhausted and by the first night, on 10 July, Brooke was in sole charge of the production. Comus was performed twice, the first night attended by Alfred Austin, Thomas Hardy and Edmund Gosse. Brooke's acting was undistinguished. The production was the occasion of his extracting a curious promise from his fellow-Thespians not to pair off and become engaged for six months.