In 1937 the Ginner-Mawer School of Dance and Drama celebrated its 21st birthday.  By this time Miss Mawer had been married, widowed, married again, lived through a World War, worked with Sybil Thorndike and Lewis Casson in The Trojan Women, and also in Medea, published The Dance of Words, visited Greece with the Ginner-Mawer company, published The Art of Mime, published Twelve Mime Plays, performed as Pierrot in L’Enfant Prodigue several times, performed in the open air in Regents Park and Hyde Park, became a patron of the English Verse Speaking Association, had her students appear on BBC television – all the while, teaching at the Ginner-Mawer School and other locations.  She was 41 years old.

At this point, the School was located in premises at the Philbeach Hall in Philbeach Gardens, London, SW5.  It comprised two large halls, a gymnasium, a lecture room, a common room, a Secretary’s office and dressing rooms.  Additionally, it was one of the few halls in London which was shut away from crowds and traffic, surrounded by beautiful old trees.  Most importantly – it had HOT WATER!

Unfortunately, I don’t have a note of how many students were enrolled for the full three year course, but 98 people were at the dinner, which was given by the Ginner-Mawer Old Girls’ Club.  I am assuming that the school was at its height of popularity at this point.  So popular, in fact, that the location of the 21st birthday dinner was none other than an extremely fancy restaurant called Frascati’s – a prestigious, central London location:

Frascati restaurant at 32 Oxford Street, London was celebrated for its cosmopolitanism, luxury and excellent cuisine and was a sumptuous and elegant venue that was highly regarded for its international cuisine.

The façade with a large frontage was renovated in the late 20s and comprised a handsome gold portico with gold metal work framing the large windows and thousands of sheets of gold leaf were used. One entered via a yellow and gold revolving door into a spacious vestibule or lounge area with thick red pile carpets with futurist patterns, vividly coloured brocade settees and brocade curtains and large gilt chandeliers replaced old crystal ones.

The magnificent décor was in gold and silver throughout and all the chairs in the Winter Garden, the Balcony and the Grill were leather seated and backed. The proprietors of Frascati prided themselves on its flowers – and floral decorations are everywhere – arranged in vases around pillars, on tables, in the lounge and in the window boxes and hanging baskets outside.

There was simply nothing like it in London.

Frascati restaurant was also a popular place for banquets and dinners and there were numerous private rooms for private functions.

So I am guessing, judging by this description of a magnificent restaurant, that the School was doing well!  I wonder what would have become of Miss Mawer and Miss Ginner if World War 2 had not devastated everyone’s lives…

Author: Janet Fizz Curtis

Janet Fizz Curtis is trained in the Irene Mawer Method of Mime and Movement and is now writing a book about the life of Irene Mawer.

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