Otto Bohlmann

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Otto Bohlmann (1953-) is an academic, editor, and former amateur actor.


Born in Johannesburg, Bohlmann completed his schooling at Grey College in Bloemfontein in 1970. He then graduated with a B.A. in English and classics from the University of the Free State (Bloemfontein) and a B.A. (Honours Schools) in English from the University of Cambridge (UK), followed by an M.A. and Ph.D. in English from the University of Cape Town. He also attended Yale University (New Haven) for a year while researching his doctorate.

In the early 1980s he was a lecturer and senior lecturer in the Department of English at the University of the Free State. He then settled in the United Sates in 1984, working for many years as an editor at Yale University Press before becoming managing editor of the journal Metaphilosophy, based in the Department of Philosophy at Southern Connecticut State University (New Haven).

He is the author of the books Yeats and Nietzsche (Macmillan and Barnes and Noble, 1982) and Conrad’s Existentialism (Macmillan and St. Martin’s Press, 1991).

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

In 1969 he played Henry in a production of Thornton Wilder’s The Skin of Our Teeth, directed by Maureen Viljoen, at Grey College’s sister school Eunice.

He was a member of the Grey College Dramatic Society in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and the first person ever to be awarded school colours for drama at the school.

The honour was largely driven by his notable performance as the young King Henry in a scene from Shakespeare’s Henry V (the prologue and scene 1 of act 4), an adaptation called A Little Touch of Harry in the Night, devised and directed for the school’s Dramatic Society by Temple Hauptfleisch, as the society’s entry for the 1970 English Eisteddfod in the Orange Free State. That same year he also appeared as "Kardinaal D’Orilla" in the Dramatic Society’s production of C. Louis Leipoldt’s Die Heks, directed by Charles Malan.

During the early 1970s he served as a film critic, and sometimes performing arts critic, for The Friend newspaper (Bloemfontein), part of the Argus Group.

In the early 1970s and the early 1980s he appeared in several productions for Bloemfontein dramatic societies. Among these were, for the Bloemfontein Shakespeare Circle (on whose committee he served): "Demetrius" in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and "Malcolm" in Macbeth (with the professional actor George Jackson in the title role), both directed by Marlene Kotzen; for the Bloemfontein Repertory Society: Jack Popplewell’s Busybody, directed by George Prosser, Michael Cristofer’s The Shadow Box, directed by Freda Levin, Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts ("Osvald"), directed by Geoffrey Hyland, and Noël Coward’s Hay Fever (Simon), directed by Desmond Hughes; for the English Society at the University of the Free State: Alan Melville’s Devil May Care, Oliver Goldsmith’s She Stoops to Conquer, and N. F. Wilson’s A Resounding Tinkle; and a programme of readings in the Anglican Cathedral, a children’s play, and Candlelight Theatre, all directed by Maureen Viljoen.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s in New Haven he appeared in a Yale student production of Noël Coward’s Hay Fever, directed by Pegram Harrison, and in a programme of words and music by Coward with baritone Richard Lalli and pianist William Braun, initially presented at the Yale Center for British Art and later at several venues around Connecticut.


Personal correspondence and a CV provided by Otto Bohlmann (January, 2020).

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