Margrit Roma was an actress and director, born in Zurich before moving to Berlin to pursue theatre. She studied under Max
Reinhardt until fleeing to France during WWII where she starred in several films which lead to a career in Hollywood. There
she met Clarence Ricklefs, her husband who joined her in creating and managing a series of “little” theaters in the area.
In 1966 they moved to San Francisco where they became involved in local theatre production which eventually became the New
Shakespeare Company. This collection covers the period of 1907 to 1995 in the life of Margrit Roma and the life of Clarence
Ricklefs after 1946, including information on both of their involvement in theatre, Margrit’s career in Hollywood, and the
New Shakespeare Company in San Francisco.
Margrit Roma was born in Zurich, November 27, 1907. Her maiden name was Baer. At an early age she ran away from home to Berlin
to pursue a life in the active theatre life in that city. She met Max Reinhardt and was a student and actress in his famed
school. Early on she was under the influence of the works of Bertolt Brecht and performed in his adaptation of Gorki’s The
Mother. By the mid 1930s, she fled to France when Hitler’s dictatorship was persecuting Jews. In Paris she appeared in several
films before moving on to America and eventually to Hollywood. In Hollywood, she worked for the studios with no real success,
but in 1946, she met Clarence Ricklefs, a contractor, born in Iowa, and they married. Together they created and managed a
series of “little” theaters in the area for twenty years. Artistically successful, the financial returns were meager. In 1966,
they moved to the San Francisco peninsula and became involved in theater productions that, in 1969, evolved into the New Shakespeare
Company in San Francisco. From the beginning, the Shakespeare Company centered on young actors, as well as young audiences.
Touring the entire USA, they traveled to as many as fifty cities, including thirty-six college campuses, in the next two decades.
Money was always a problem and the papers in the collection spell out the difficulties in continuing productions of not only
Shakespeare but also Brecht and adapting children’s classics for the stage. From performances in Golden Gate Park to Lake
Tahoe and all over the country, the team of Roma and Ricklefs brought theater to the country for two and a half decades. This
Collection describes the history of life in the theater in America when success is too often measured by financial rewards
and not on artistic merit.