Fiona Ramsay

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Fiona Ramsay (19**-). Actress and director.

Biography

Fiona was born in Johannesburg.

Training

She graduated with a BA and Performer's Diploma in Drama from the University of Cape Town Drama Department in 1979.

Career

Fiona is one of South Africa's leading actresses, working locally and overseas.

She worked at The Space in the 1970s.

She built up an impressive body of work while in England - highlights were playing Lady Croom and Hannah for the Royal National Theatre's Arcadia by Tom Stoppard, Lady Macbeth in Macbeth.

Fiona founded the Speakeasy Vocal Academy, which trains in all areas of vocal development and production, notably as dialect and dialogue coach for international films and television.

Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

For The Space she appeared in Candaules Commissioner and Dolls (directed by Richard Grant and Michael O'Brien).

She was a founder member of the Troupe Theatre Company in 1980 and performed in all their productions including Mrs. Samsa in Metamorphosis, Eva Braun in Summit Conference, Clytemnestra in Agamemnon, Jenny Diver in The Threepenny Opera, Sybil/Helen in Decadence, Fanshen, Guinea Fowl and Claw.

Other roles include "Eva" in Summit Conference, "Helen/Sybil" in Berkoff's hugely successful and frequently repeated Decadence and Born in the RSA (Barney Simon & Co, 1985).

She starred in the Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of Kafka’s Metamorphosis at the Market Theatre in 1980, as Jessica in The Merchant of Venice and Emelia in Othello for CAPAB, and Jan in Bedroom Farce for the Baxter Company '82, Agnes of God at the Baxter Theatre and the Alhambra Theatre as Martha Livingstone in 1983. She was later replaced by Sandra Duncan when she opened at the André Huguenet Theatre co-starring with Richard Haines in Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing which was directed by Nikolas Simmonds in 1983. She was seen at the Market Theatre in Barney Simon's production of Still Life and in his play Joburg Sis! at the Kings Head Theatre in London. She starred in In Praise of Rattigan together with Rex Garner, Jonathan Rands and Neville Thomas with direction by Rex Garner in 1984, the Baxter Theatre production of Steven Berkoff’s Decadence in 1984, she helped write Born in the RSA, appeared in Benefactors in 1985 and Rough Crossing in 1987.

Productions during 1989 include A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Market Theatre, As You Like It, Scorched Earth and Hapgood at the Alexander Theatre.

Subsequent roles include The Heidi Chronicles (1990), Six Degrees of Separation in 1992. She starred in Steven Berkoff’s Decadence in 1993.

Among her many other appearances are in Six Degrees of Separation (1991), The Book Club, Ladies and Gentlemen, Shakespeare!, Life X3 and Sleeping Beauty, Indiscretions (1996), My Brilliant Divorce (2002-2003), Honour (2004), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Baxter Theatre, 2007), Planet Perth.

She worked on the films Stander, Critical Assignment, Beat the Drum, and Hotel Rwanda with Nick Nolte's Don Cheedle.

Fiona has appeared in several international films - most recently in Country of my Skull. Fiona has also appeared often on television in Arende, Stolen Lives, and most recently as the feisty woman lawyer Kate Hansen in Justice for All III with Vusi Kunene - the third in the series.

In the early 2000s Fiona hosted a radio show on SAFM each week, a program devoted to Arts & Culture issues and the world of entertainment, called Art of the Matter. Fiona could also be seen on M-Net's Project Fame as the performance coach.

As director

She directed Total Eclipse for the Grahamstown Festival (1979), Christopher Durang’s Laughing Wild at the Market Theatre in October 1990, Nunsense (2004).

Awards, etc

Fiona has been nominated for and won many awards for her performances, notably her roles in the sizzling Decadence, Alan Bennett's Talking Heads, Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing and for Eva Braun in Summit Conference (1981).

Won the Most Promising New Actress for the AA Mutual Vita Awards, 1984.

Nominated in 1991 for Struts and Frets (Johannesburg Repetory Players Award for best actress in a leading role in English);

Won DALRO Award for best performance in a cabaret/revue, 1993 for Telegrams From Hell.

Fiona won the 2003 Naledi Award for best performance in a comedy for My Brilliant Divorce.

Sources

Tucker, 1997.

Honour programme notes, 2004.

Various entries in the NELM catalogue.

Go to ESAT Bibliography

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