Sonia Fraser obituary
by Rachael Bickerton
theguardian.com, Wednesday 11 December 2013 09.56 EST
In addition to her career in theatre and broadcasting, Sonia Fraser became a psychotherapist in later years
My mum, Sonia Fraser, who has died aged 76, began her 60-year career in the theatre when she "ran away" from home to join the Bristol Old Vic theatre school. In her words: "I went off at 15 with a copy of Shakespeare and a pair of tights and thought, 'This is what I want to do.' "
She worked tirelessly and with great passion, as an actor and later as a director and writer. Her acting roles included Katherine to Albert Finney's Henry V at the Birmingham Rep in 1957; Elizabeth Vernon in the BBC TV production Elizabeth R (1971); and Arwen in the 1981 BBC Radio 4 dramatisation of JRR Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. Mum loved to talk of her days as a member of the BBC Radio Rep and seasons at the Royal Shakespeare Company.
But it was directing about which she was really passionate. She was particularly excited by working with new writers, and was awarded three Fringe Firsts at the Edinburgh festival, for Gertrude Stein and a Companion (1984), Bright Star in a Dark Sky: A life of Maria Malibran (1990) and Soup (1995). She also won the Green Room award in Sydney, Australia, for Gertrude Stein and a Companion. Dickens' Women (1989), which she co-wrote and directed with Miriam Margolyes, received an Olivier nomination in 1991.
Sonia was born in London, the younger of two children of Alec, a tailor, and Betsy Fraser.
She had done an audition, won a place and applied for a grant to go to the Bristol Old Vic school before telling her parents and, although they were horrified at the idea, they let her go, to "get it out of her system".
Mum taught at various drama schools, including Guildhall, Lamda and the Drama Studio London. She loved returning to teach and direct at Bristol Old Vic, where she was teaching until earlier this year.
Sonia also touched many people's lives in her later years in her work as a psychotherapist. She trained at the Centre for Counselling and Psychotherapy Education in London; and many of her clients were students from drama schools where she taught.
Sonia is survived by her brother, Cedric; children, Matthew, Tristan and me; and grandson, Tim.
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