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Spalding, Ruth (1913-2009) | Archival Collections at Wheaton College

Name: Spalding, Ruth (1913-2009)


Historical Note:

Ruth Spalding (30 November 1913 – 26 February 2009) was an actor, director and author. She had a successful career in theater as actor and director, turned to writing television programming and worked in education, where she found time to research and write the life of the 17th-century parliamentarian and lawyer Bulstrode Whitelocke, for which she won a Whitbread prize in 1975.

During the WWII she founded the Oxford Pilgrim Players, a co-operative company of actors. They claimed to play "any time anywhere", in Welsh miners' halls, schools, universities, once in a garage, in a hospital, in converted stables, in the crypt of St Paul's cathedral, and in East End air-raid shelters. The Pilgrim Players were then incorporated into the Rock Theatre Company, in which Spalding and her husband, Terence O'Brien, both became leading actors and directors. Their performances were acclaimed in glowing terms in the press when Ruth played Ophelia in Hamlet and Portia in The Merchant of Venice, and her husband Shylock, Macbeth and Malvolio. They acted in the plays of Strindberg and George Bernard Shaw; their performances took them to the Comedy Theatre in London, and St Martin in the Fields church; Spalding directed a play in the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre, and they played scenes from Shakespeare in Wakefield gaol. After the war, and with the advent of television, life was more difficult for a touring company, and Spalding moved into education, lecturing, arranging conferences and exhibitions, advising the National Union of Townswomen's Guilds on arts, crafts and social studies. Charles Williams, the poet and playwright, had lodged in the house of Spalding's parents during the war, and became a close friend to and her sister Anne; she wrote a radio programme about him in 1961.

Sources: Wikipedia article - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruth_Spalding






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