Gwen ffrangçon-Davies

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FFRANGÇON-DAVIES, Gwen (1891-1992). Distinguished actress, singer, and theatrical entrepreneur. Born in London on 25 January 1891, she was trained by Mrs L.M. Hicks and Agnes Platt. Began as a operatic singer, then joined the Old Vic, for which her first stage appearance was in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Went on to Birmingham Rep as a dramatic actress, also working in the West End and at the Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-on-Avon. In 1924, she played Juliet in Romeo and Juliet and Queen Anne in Richard of Bordeaux in 1934, both with John Gielgud, Henry V (with Ivor Novello, 1934), Gas Light (1934) and Macbeth (1942). Came to South Africa in 1940 with Marda Vanne and became a director of the resuscitated Pretoria Repertory Theatre. * In 1942 they formed the Gwen ffrangçon-Davies-Marda Vanne Company and toured the country to present fine classical and modern productions. (See Gwen ffrangçon-Davies-Marda Vanne Company). She played leads in and/or directed works such as Watch on the Rhine (1943 at the Standard ), Flare Path (194*), What Every Woman Knows (194*), Blithe Spirit (1944), Milestones (194*), The Merry Wives of Windsor (1945), The Wind of Heaven (1946), A Month in the Country (1946), **. In 1943, she had pleaded unsuccessfully for the establishment of a national “Committee for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts”. She returned to Britain in 1946 to continue with a long and distinguished careers on the British stage, though she occasionally returned to work in South Africa. For instance Macbeth (for NTO, 1950), Much Ado About Nothing (Johannesburg REPS , 1951, for the inauguration of the new Reps Theatre), Waters of the Moon (for Brian Brooke, 1953). She retired from the stage in 1970, but continued to appear on radio and television. She was created a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1991, aged 100, six months before her death at age 101, and made her final acting appearance in a teleplay of the Sherlock Holmes story The Master Blackmailer opposite Jeremy Brett that same yearHer other films included The Witches (1966) and The Devil Rides Out (1968). FfRANGÇON-DAVIES, Gwen. Distinguished actress who had a long career on the British stage. Started in opera, before becoming known as a dramatic actress. Performed with all the great actors of her time including John Gielgud. Came to South Africa in 1941 and formed a company with Marda Vanne that presented plays until 1946. Left South Africa after the war. Died at the age of 101 in 1992. Produced and starred in Watch on the Rhine by Lilian Hellman in 1943 at the Standard. Starred in Blithe Spirit in 1944 with Marda Vanne, Margaret Inglis and Siegfried Mynhardt. Staged The Merry Wives of Windsor together with Marda Vanne in 1945, starring Wensley Pithey as Falstaff. Presented, and starred in Emlyn Williams' The Wind of Heaven, together with Marda Vanne in 1946. Zoe Randall, Wensley Pithey and Sid James also starred in this performance. Starred in Turgenev's A Month in the Country in 1946 together with Marda Vanne, which was their last production before they went back to England. Macbeth in Afrikaans, was directed by Gwen Ffrangçon-Davies in 1950 for the National Theatre.. It was staged at His Majesty’s and starred André Huguenet and Anna Neethling-Pohl. Directed Much Ado About Nothing for the inauguration of the new Reps Theatre, designed by Manfred Hermer, in 1951. It starred Margaret Inglis and Jack Ralphs. Starred in Waters of the Moon by N.C. Hunter in 1953. She died in January 1992 in London at the age of 101. FFRANGCON-DAVIES, Gwen, Twelfth Night & Marda Vanne, 1940/41.

(See Hartnoll, 19**; Tucker, 1997;  Du Toit,  1988, Wikipedia) [TH, JH, SH]

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