British Black and Asian Shakespeare Performance Database
Involved in 35 productions. Has worked with 34 other people in this database.
Abraham Sofaer was born in Rangoon, Burma (now Myanmar) in 1896 to Burmese-Jewish parents. He was educated at the local Diocesan Boys' High School and joined Charles Doran's company with his first professional appearance as a supernumerary in The Merchant of Venice at the Palace Theatre, Newark-on-Trent in 1921. He settled in Hollywood in the mid-1950s, playing a number of character parts. In the US, he directed the great American actress Helen Hayes, probably the 1938 production in which she played Portia (which we at BBAS are trying to confirm). Sofaer's Daily Telegraph obituary (23 January 1988) states that "in his prime he was regarded as one of the best verse speakers on the English stage. In the course of his 60-year career he pretty well made the part of Shylock his own." He died in Los Angeles at the age of 91.
In a 1943 interview with the Stratford-upon-Avon Herald, Sofaer noted that he had begun his career twenty-three years previously and had acted nothing but Shakespeare during those years. As the article recounts, "His first [speaking] part was the Duke of Gloucester in Henry V. He had one line - and one line only - near the end of the play: 'I hope they will not come upon us now' - and he never forgets the thrill of waiting for it." (19 March 1943).