Wei Wu Wei
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|Born||14 September 1895|
Felixstowe, Suffolk, England, UK
|Died||5 January 1986 (aged 90)|
|Pen name||Wei Wu Wei|
|Notable work||Open Secret|
Terence James Stannus Gray (14 September 1895 – 5 January 1986), was a theatre producer who created the Cambridge Festival Theatre as an experimental theatre in Cambridge. He produced over 100 plays there between 1926 and 1933. Later in life, under the pen name Wei Wu Wei, he published several books on Taoist philosophy.
Terence James Stannus Gray was born in Felixstowe, Suffolk, England on 14 September 1895, the son of Harold Stannus Gray and a member of a well-established Anglo-Irish family. He was raised on an estate in the Gog Magog Hills outside Cambridge, England. He received a thorough education at Ascham St Vincent's School, Eastbourne, Eton and Oxford University. Early in life he pursued an interest in Egyptology which culminated in the publication of two books on ancient Egyptian history and culture in 1923.
In the later part of his life he lived with his second wife, the Georgian princess Natalie Margaret Imeretinsky, in Monaco. He had previously been married to a Russian noblewoman, Rimsky-Korsakov. Gray knew, among others, Lama Anagarika Govinda, Dr. Hubert Benoit, John Blofeld, Douglas Harding, Robert Linssen, Arthur Osborne, Robert Powell and Dr. D. T. Suzuki.
Cambridge Festival Theatre
In the 1920s and 1930s Gray worked as a theorist, theatrical producer, creator of radical "dance-dramas", publisher of several related magazines and author of two related books. His cousin was Ninette de Valois, founder of the Royal Ballet.
In 1926, Gray, with no previous practical theatrical experience, opened the Cambridge Festival Theatre as an experimental playhouse. He acquired the old Theatre Royal in the Cambridge suburb of Barnwell, and substantially rebuilt it. The opening production was Aeschylus' The Orestia, with de Valois as choreographer, and he continued to produce non-naturalistic productions, emphasising movement over speech. Critics were divided, with some praising his achievements, and others saying he sacrificed text and acting to clever trickery. Gray delighted in upsetting audiences but, despite controversy, audiences filled the theatre.
After he had apparently exhausted his interest in the theatre, his thoughts turned towards philosophy and metaphysics. This led to a period of travel throughout Asia, including time spent at Ramana Maharshi's ashram in Tiruvannamalai, India. Between the years 1958 and 1974, eight books and articles in various periodicals appeared under the pseudonym "Wei Wu Wei" (Wu wei, a Taoist term which translates as "action that is non-action"). His identity as the author was not revealed at the time of publication for reasons he outlined in the Preface to the first book, Fingers Pointing Towards the Moon (Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1958).
The next 16 years saw the appearance of seven subsequent books, including his final work under the further pseudonym "O.O.O." in 1974. Wei Wu Wei influenced among others, the British mathematician and author G. Spencer-Brown, Galen Sharp, and Ramesh Balsekar. Wei Wu Wei is discussed in some detail in the book Taoism for Dummies (John Wiley and Sons Canada, 2013).
- Fingers Pointing Towards The Moon; Reflections of a Pilgrim on the Way, 1958, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul (out of print); 2003, Boulder: Sentient Publications. Foreword by Ramesh Balsekar. ISBN 1-59181-010-8
- Why Lazarus Laughed; The Essential Doctrine Zen-Advaita-Tantra, 1960, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. (out of print); 2003, Boulder: Sentient Publications. ISBN 1-59181-011-6
- Ask The Awakened; The Negative Way, 1963, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd. (2nd ed. 1974)(out of print); 1973, Boston: Little, Brown & Co. ISBN 0-316-92810-0 (out of print); 2002, Boulder: Sentient Publications. Foreword by Galen Sharp. ISBN 0-9710786-4-5
- All Else Is Bondage; Non-Volitional Living, 1964, Hong Kong University Press (reprinted 1970, 1982). ISBN 962-209-025-7 (out of print); 1999, Sunstar Publications. ISBN 1-886656-34-7 (out of print); 2004, Boulder: Sentient Publications. 1-59181-023-X
- Open Secret, 1965, Hong Kong University Press (reprinted 1970, 1982). ISBN 962-209-030-3 (out of print); 2004, Boulder: Sentient Publications. ISBN 1-59181-014-0
- The Tenth Man, 1966, Hong Kong University Press (reprinted 1967, 1971). ISBN 0-85656-013-8 (out of print); 2003, Boulder: Sentient Publications. Foreword by Dr. Gregory Tucker. ISBN 1-59181-007-8
- Posthumous Pieces, 1968, Hong Kong University Press. Foreword by Wayne Liquorman. ISBN 0-85656-027-8 (out of print); 2004, Boulder: Sentient Publications. ISBN 1-59181-015-9
- Unworldly Wise; As the Owl Remarked to the Rabbit, 1974, Hong Kong University Press. ISBN 0-85656-103-7 (out of print) (Note: this book published under the further pseudonym 'O.O.O.'); 2004, Boulder: Sentient Publications. ISBN 1-59181-019-1
A biography was published in 2004.
- Harbin, B (1969). "Terence Gray and the Cambridge Festival Theatre". Educational Theatre Journal. 21 (4): 1926–1933.
- Cosgrove, Olivia; Cox, Laurence; Kuhling, Carmen, eds. (2010). Ireland's New Religious Movements. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. p. 62. ISBN 1443826154.
- Nicholson, Steve (2016). "'Nobody Was Ready for That: The Gross Impertinence of Terence Gray and the Degradation of Drama". Theatre Research International. 21 (2): 121–131.
- Cornwell, Paul (2004). Only by Failure: The Many Faces of the Impossible Life of Terence Gray. Salt Publishing. ISBN 1844710041.
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