Sue Kiel

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Sue Kiel (b. Cape Town, 15/06/1950) was an actress and model.


Sue Kiel is the daughter of Sidney Kiel and Jean Kramer. Her father was a medical doctor who was also a champion hurdler and Western Province cricketer. After completing school she attended the University of Cape Town, obtaining first a BA and then attending the drama school. She started her professional acting career with PACT and appeared in a variety of productions. At the end of 1973 she left to join Barney Simon and Mannie Manim, thus becoming a founder member of The Company that would later find a permanent home at the Market Theatre. Prior to that they performed at venues ranging from The Nunnery to the Blue Fox at the Oxford Hotel in Johannesburg. In 1976 she went freelance and was part of lengthy runs of productions like The Black Mikado, The Rocky Horror Show and Grease.

In 1978 she left Johannesburg to gain modelling and acting experience in Los Angeles, but the initial years in the United States were difficult. During this time she met and married noted South African-born photographer Norman Seeff, who had come to the United States in 1969. She had small parts in memorable films like Repo Man (Alex Cox/1984) and Down and Out in Beverly Hill (Paul Mazursky/1986), as well as in television series like The A-Team and MacGyver. Ironically, one of her more interesting roles was in an episode of Cagney & Lacey (1986), in which she played an obsessive South African marathon runner determined to complete the New York City Marathon despite receiving death threats, possibly from anti-apartheid activists. Her fellow South African, Ross Kettle, also had a small part in this episode.

Eventually she decided to give up her acting career and turned to teaching, notably as Creative Director of the Los Angeles chapter of the New York-based CityKids Foundation, formed as a response to the social upheavals in the south central part of the city. It was aimed at establishing youth development programmes and involved teaching leadership skills, promoting interpersonal relationships and conflict resolution, etc. This included a repertory company that produced original work which grew out of a series of workshops. In 2010 she completed a thesis entitled “Homecoming: finding a place for shamanistic practice in the creation of post-colonial theatre” towards a master’s degree in Theatre Making and Performance at the University of Cape Town.

Theatre Credits

1972 – The Fantasticks (Director: Ken Leach), 1972 – The Nuns (Director: Norman Coombes), 1972 – Doctor Faustus (Director: Ken Leach), 1972 – Alice’s Adventures Underground (Director: Nigel Vermaas), 1972 – The Magnolia Tree (Director: Ken Leach), 1973 – A Macbeth (Director: Charles Marowitz), 1973 – Woyzeck (Director: Barney Simon), 1973 - Zoo Zoo Widdershins Zoo (Director: Aubrey Berg), 1973 – Tartuffe (Director: Francois Swart), 1973 – People (Director: Barney Simon), 1973 – The Trial (Director: Ken Leach) – all for PACT at either the Arena Theatre or the Alexander Theatre; 1974 – Lysistrata (Director: Barney Simon), 1974 – Storytime (Director: Barney Simon), 1974 – Twelfth Night (Director: Janice Honeyman), 1974 – Second Edition (Director: Aubrey Berg), 1975 – Show Me Yours… (Director: Barney Simon), 1975 – Antigone (Director: Barney Simon), 1975 – The Flat and Sharp Bazaar (Director: Aletta Bezuidenhout), 1975 – People Too (Director: Barney Simon) – all for The Company, 1976 – The Black Mikado (Des and Dawn Lindberg), 1977 – The Rocky Horror Show (Director: John Dicks), 1977 – Grease (Producers: Joan Brickhill & Louis Burke).


SACD 1973; 1974; 1975/76; 1977/78.

Pat Schwartz - The best of company: the story of Johannesburg's Market Theatre (1988)

Percy Tucker - Just the ticket!: my 50 years in show business (1997)

Rand Daily Mail, 21 August 1973

Sunday Times, 20 February 1977

Sunday Times, 30 August 1987

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