Ron Fenton

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Ron Fenton (1935-) is an actor, playwright and theatre personality, best known for his contribution to South African theatre.


Born Ronald Fenton in Hounslow, Middlesex UK, in 1935. As a child during the 2nd World War, Ron admits he found it an exciting time, fighter planes, air warden drills, and Soldiers in his village. He also said he remembers riding his bike over the Heath, before it became Heathrow Airport. And it was when watching his parents act during the war, that inspired Ron to act himself.

Ron joined the Merchant Navy in 1956. Thus given him the opportunity to travel to far and exotic countries. He also took part in Merchant Navy Training videos. He left the Merchant Navy in 1961, settling in Cape Town.

The family went back to England in 1980, where he got a job in planning, and generally lived a normal life. Initially he did not participate in theatrical activities for two years, but then he started writing again and participating in local drama groups, though never again to the extend he had done in South Africa.

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

He began his acting career in South Africa in 1966, and worked extensively with the Maynardville Open-air Shakespeare Theatre, Cape Town (1966 -1975), the Masque Theatre, Muizenberg (1972 - 1979, Bergvliet Dramatic Society (1975), and the Space Theatre, Cape Town (1972 - 1979).

As actor:

His roles for the Maynardville open-air theatre included "Cornwall's servant" (King Lear 1966); "Sergeant" (Macbeth, 1967), "Pistol" Merry Wives of Windsor, 1969), "Senators, Offices, Messenger and Attendents" (Othello, 1970), "Messenger" (Antony and Cleopatra, 1972), "First Gravedigger" (Hamlet,”

For the Masque Theatre he appeared as "Martin Eppingham" in My Giddy Aunt (Cooney and Chapman, 1972), "George Riley" in Enter a Free Man (Stoppard, 1973), "Edward Robinson" in Naked in the Fountain (Ron Fenton, 1976), "Phil Hogan" in A Moon for the Misbegotten (Eugene O’Neill, for The Sons of England Dramatic Society, 1977), "Basher Bates" in Don't Utter A Note (Anton Delmar, 1979).

For the Space Theatre he had roles in The Slab Boys (John Byrne, 1979), Three Thoroughly Offensive Plays for Mother Grundies (1979), In Two Minds (David Mercerat, 1979)

For the Bergvliet Dramatic Society he played the "Burgomaster" in Laughing Dandino (1975),

For Imps Drama he played the lead in their first production, As Long As Forever Is, a programme of songs, poems and prose by Dylan Thomas, devised by Henry Goodman, Glynn Day and Lynn Banner, (1976)

At Fish Hoek Drama Festival he presented two of his plays, performing in them as well: The Invalid (1974), The Hostage Voluntary (1976).

For Glynn Day Productions he played "Harry Rabinowitz" in Mr McConkey’s Suitcase (Geraldine Aron, 1977), "Bill J Mortimer" in The Chess Mistress (Tony Robinson, 1978)

As director

Directed inter alia his own play The Invalid (Fish Hoek Drama Festival, 1974),

As playwright

He wrote the plays Naked in the Fountain, The Invalid (1974), and The Hostage Voluntary (1976).

Awards, accolades, etc

His acting in Stoppard's Enter a Free Man received high accolades from critic Jill Fletcher (1973): "Ron Fenton as the Free man was excellent. Apart from having to learn a monumental part, (he was hardly ever off the stage) he touched the heart of everyone who has leapt off this dry and dusty earth, missed the stars and crashed back to earth again".


E-mail correspondence from Frazer Fenton (12-14 April, 2016)

Jill Fletcher. 1973. Review of Enter a Free Man, Cape Times, April 1973.

Geoffrey Tansley. 1974. Review of the 1974 Fish Hoek Drama Festival, Cape Times.

Fiona Chisholm 1975. Review of the Maynardville production of Hamlet, the Cape Times, 8th January.

Owen Williams. 1975. Review of the Maynardville production of Hamlet, The Argus, 8th January.

Geoffery Tansley, 1976. Review of the Imps Drama production of As Long as Forever Is, Cape Times , March. 21 The Hostage Voluntary was reviewed in The Fish Hoek Echo newspaper (Page 7), "Hostage Voluntary" written by Ron Fenton, who also took the leading part...packed with action, suspense and gripping drama, centering round riot torn Ireland. To my mind a tremendous achievement and well deserving of a special award." (And on Page 9) Another waste in my opinion was that of an absolute master of his craft, Ron Fenton. How many of you realise that, besides taking the leading part in that spine - chilling Irish drama "Hostage" he had also written it. The only truly topical play we had, a play that simply shouted with action and suspense! While the clever denouement left us all clutching our seats, Surely Ron Fenton deserved a special award"

22 Play is reviewed in the Cape Times by Geoffery Tansley, "Naked in the Fountain by Ron Fenton, is a well thought out comedy in two scenes in which two husbands are at first outraged by the conduct of their wives, who, on impulse in the one case and in order to assert herself in the other, exhibit more of their charms than their spouses think right and proper. Later the men are forced to take a more modern view.

23 Reviewed by Geoffery Tansley for the Cape Times (September-October 1977).

24 Production reviewed by Owen Williams for The Argus newspaper (26th October 1977).

25 Reviewed by Elaine Durbach for The Argus (21st April 1978, page 7.)

26 Reviewed in the Cape Times (5th April 1978) Reviewer unknown




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Ron Fenton (19**-) Actor.

He had roles in King Lear (1966); The Slab Boys, Three Thoroughly Offensive Plays for Mother Grundies and In Two Minds (all three at The Space in the 1970s).

He wrote the play Naked in the Fountain.

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