Sheila Allen obituary

Actor who excelled at playing women of strength, wit and charm

Sheila Allen, who has died aged 78, was an actor of extraordinary range and power, and a delightful, independent-minded woman. From 1966 to 1978, she was a stalwart of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Her Stratford-upon-Avon career reached a triumphant climax when she played the eponymous heroine of Pam Gems's Queen Christina. While there were many great roles that one would have loved to see her play – such as Shakespeare's Cleopatra and Ibsen's Hedda Gabler – she was an invaluable team-player who always made her individual mark.

Sheila was born in Chard, Somerset. After attending Howell's school, in Denbigh, Clwyd, she trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art from 1949 to 1951. Repertory seasons followed, first in Yeovil and Pitlochry and then for the Arena theatre company in Birmingham, where her roles included Katherina in The Taming of the Shrew and Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing.

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