Ruth Oppenheim

Jump to navigation Jump to search

Ruth Oppenheim (1907-1999). Actress, producer.


Born Ruth Frank in Berlin, Germany, where she pursued a successful career as an actress. She and her engineer husband Peter Oppenheim fled Germany in 1936. In South Africa she quietly but quickly became one of the best of our theatrical directors. Later, in a studio in Commissioner Street, Johannesburg, she opened her long dreamed of Academy of Acting - where students, mostly young working people, paid a fee but many were granted bursaries to ensure that they were able to persevere. One of her firmest friends was Wena Naudé. She died at the age of 92 on 17 August 1999.

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

Performed in The White Liars, The Grand Ceremonial and in The Jewish Wife.

Ruth occupied the Windmill Theatre with her core company and staged Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author in April 1955. The company of actors was led by Berdine Grünewald. Oppenheim’s company also staged Albert Camus’s Caligula with Stanley Coghan; John Van Druten's I Am a Camera with Tessa Laubscher; a season of Grand Guignol and a stage version of André Gide’s novella, The Immoralist starring Charles Stodel, Stanley Coghan and Berdine Grünewald.

In 1974 she appeared in L'Amante Anglaise, with Raeford Daniel as the husband, directed by Rina Minervini, as part of a double bill with a Dario Fo one-act play, for a Des Lindberg and Dawn Lindberg soiree in Johannesburg. It was done at the Doornfontein Arena as its last production before closing in November 1974.

In 1975 she did the same play in English for The Space (Cape Town), directed by Lindsay Reardon, with Glynn Day, Keith Grenville and Ruth Oppenheim. The stage manager was Fatima Dike.

She had a role in Harold and Maude, Market Theatre, 1982.

Among her proteges was Clifford Williams.

She directed Spring Awakening, A State of Innocence 1960.

Other productions include The Human Voice 1976. Sylvia Plath - The Woman and her Work

Awards, etc


Tucker, 1997. pp 78-79, 93, 152, 278, 336-337, 411.

Obituary by Garalt MacLiam in The Star, 1 September 1999.

Tribute by Michael Hobson in The Citizen, 3 September 1999.

Go to ESAT Bibliography

Return to

Return to ESAT Personalities O

Return to South African Theatre Personalities

Return to The ESAT Entries

Return to Main Page