Cecilia Sonnenberg

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Cecilia Sonnenberg (1913-1999) was an actress, director and theatre entrepreneur.

Her first name is sometimes written "Cecelia" for some reason. However the family records (e.g. the Diemersfontein Website[1]) and other official documents (e.g. the genealogical website GENi [2]) have the spelling as “Cecilia”.



Born Cecilia Goodman on June 6, 1913 in Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa, the daughter of Hyam Goodman and Rebecca Goodman. She married Richard "Dick" Sonnenberg, and was the mother of David Sonnenberg and an aunt of actress Janet Suzman.

She died in 1999.

Career in theatre

Began her theatrical career working back stage and on stage??** with the Johannesburg REPS . ** Moving to Cape Town in the mid 1930s, she appeared in André van Gyseghem’s production for the Cape Town Repertory Theatre Society of Man and Superman at the Little Theatre, Cape Town in 1937 and **.

In collaboration with her friend René Ahrenson, she created the Spotlight Theatre during the second world war and they held numerous play readings in the Electricity House Theatre in Strand Street. In 1956 she and Ahrenson initiated and went on to manage the Shakespeare productions at the Maynardville Open-Air Theatre in Wynberg, Cape Town.

There she appeared in and directed numerous productions, including ****. Later she also became a founder member of The Company of Four, the last of the four original members to pass away in 2000. In 1998 she received the Fleur du Cap Lifetime Award for her contribution to the industry. SONNENBURG, Cecilia. In charge of props for the REPS’s Anna Christie, 1942. Later initiated the Open Air Shakespeare at Maynardville with René Ahrenson. Aunt of actress Janet Suzman (?). Also member of the Company of Four with Leonard Schach, Donald Inskip and René Ahrenson. Leslie French became a regular director of Shakespeare for Sonnenberg and René Ahrenson’s Maynardville.


De Beer, 1995;

Tucker, 1997;

Inskip, 197*

"Cecilia Sonnenberg" on the GENi website[3]


Cape Times 15 June 1999.

[FdV, TH]

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