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GUNTER HEILBUT (a.k.a Graham Heywood)

Gunter Heilbut had no sooner arrived in England, a refugee from Hitler's Germany, than he came to The Questors, bringing with him a deep love of the theatre and a great talent, which had been fostered in his native Hamburg. His designs for Macbeth (November 1938) were the first of a long series of stage designs of great distinction, ranging in scope from Shakespeare to Revue, from Goldsmith to

Few members have been so committed to The Questors as Gunter, by which name his old friends still think of him although, when serving in the Pioneer Corps during the war, he was required for military reasons formally to change his name to Graham Heywood. In the middle of 1940 he was interned as an alien, while he was still painting the sets of his latest designs for The Questors. Later he was transported to an internment camp in Australia, a lot which he accepted philosophically while continuing efforts, ultimately successful, to be accepted for service in the Pioneer Corps, which he felt was the least he could do for the country of his adoption. Back in this country, he spent much of his leave designing and painting sets for The Questors, those for The Cherry Orchard being perhaps the most outstanding (December 1943). Then he was transferred to Europe, finishing the war as a Corporal in the Interpreters' Pool in his own Hamburg, which had been his theatrical nursery

No sooner was he demobbed than he was designing for us again, and soon becoming more deeply involved in all aspects of the theatre's life. With only a year or two's break, he served on the Committee of Management from 1951 to 1964; for many years, as a member and then as Chairman of the Plays and Productions Committee, he played a leading part in shaping The Questors' artistic policy; as a member of the four-strong New Theatre Committee, he participated actively and constructively in the whole process of the preliminary research and actual planning of the new theatre: as Head of Design, he contributed greatly, by influencing and example, to the development of stage design in our theatre throughout the fifties and sixties.

Gunter had the most marvellous `feel' for theatre, more I am sure than anyone else who has ever worked at The Questors. In all my years as Honorary Director, working closely with him, I knew I could never make a mistake if I deferred to him, as I often did. No one has contributed more than he to the artistic life of The Questors, especially in these formative years.

He died on 2nd December at the age of 66 after a short illness. But much of his life remains still, in The Questors Theatre.


Gunter Heilbut (Graham Heywood) designing at The Questors
1946 Diary of a Scoundrel
1949 By Request (An Original Revue)
1949 Othello
1949 Beaux' Stratagem, The
1949 Prophesy to The Wind
1951 Poor Man's Miracle
1951 Two Gentlemen of Verona
1952 Testament of Cresseid
1952 Merchant of Venice, The
1952 Right You Are (If You Think So)
1954 King John
1955 Hamlet
1955 Overruled
1956 She Stoops to Conquer
1958 Everybody Loves Celimare
1961 Rules of The game, The
1962 Traveller without Luggage
1966 Arms and the Man