'I am very happy to make this website, designed by Liz, official.'
Zo Wanamaker CBE
My name's Liz, and I manage the website. For details of when and why it was created, please see the section about this website.
Zo has an official Twitter account, @ZoeWanamaker, that she runs with her PA, Vanessa. I tweet at @LizLockhart1985.

Sam Wanamaker Playhouse:
You can donate to the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, and find out more about this recreation of an indoor Jacobean theatre, on the Shakespeare's Globe website. Zo, who is Honorary President of the Globe, talks about the history and significance of the project in a video by the theatre. 

Current and upcoming projects:
  • The Birthday Party (Harold Pinter Theatre, London: 9 January-14 April 2018): Zo stars as Meg, who runs a seaside boarding house, in this West End revival of Pinter's dark, classic play.
  • Britannia (Sky Atlantic and Amazon Prime Video, 2018): Zo stars as Queen Antedia, a key figure in the Celtic resistance movement, in this epic, nine-part historical drama series about the Roman invasion of ancient Britain.
  • Inside Number 9 (BBC Two, 2018): Zo guest stars in an episode from this cult comedy-drama's fourth series.
  • Girlfriends (ITV, 2018): Zo stars as Gail, part of a trio of childhood friends rocked by tragedy in this six-part drama series.

Guestbook - To sign the guestbook, please click the picture below. Your comments are much appreciated.

Welcome to the official website for Zoë Wanamaker!

Celebrating the 20th anniversary of Zo's 'towering performance' as Electra at the Donmar Warehouse

24 October 2017 02:11

It's now twenty years, almost to the day, since Sophocles' Electra, which featured Zo's mesmerising portrayal of the grieving, vengeful title character, came to the Donmar Warehouse in London. It's hard to believe that so much time has passed, but Electra lives on in the minds of those who were lucky enough to see it. Their memories of this landmark production are surely as vivid now as they were in 1997.

Director David Leveaux's startling, stimulating and highly successful revival of the Ancient Greek tragedy, freshly adapted by Frank McGuinness, had already wowed audiences during its initial run in Chichester and on tour. 'Zoe Wanamaker as the heroine gives an immaculate, moving and physical performance of star quality in which her emotions are exposed to the bone and the audience is left breathless,' emphasised Michael Sell in The Stage. Now the Capital's theatregoers and reviewers were to be treated to this unforgettable performance and production.

Talking to The New York Times about their bold choice of play, Leveaux recalled, 'I said [to Zo]: ''Don't you think it's time you had a really good scream? Why don't we do something we really want to do, something that is dangerous and a challenge?'' I wanted to see her go up and show what she's got.' Zo rose to the challenge by tackling one of the most physically and emotionally demanding roles of her career.

Electra's heart, soul, mind and body are warped by her obsessive mourning for her father, Agamemnon. He'd sacrificed her sister, Iphigenia, during wartime and was then himself murdered by her mother, Clytemnestra, many years before the play begins. The impact of those traumatic early experiences is symbolised by Electra's spiky, unruly hair and the huge, threadbare coat that once belonged to Agamemnon and now engulfs her petite frame. She's dangerously unstable, a child-woman consumed by grief coupled with a bloodthirsty desire for revenge. Electra is desperate to be reunited with her brother, Orestes, and equally desperate for him to perpetuate the brutal cycle of familial violence by killing their mother. Johan Engels' set design called for earth to cover the stage, like an open grave, ensuring that death was never far from the characters' and audience's thoughts.

'To me, it's about a soul who is troubled, an avenging angel, a terrorist and yet a heroine of huge proportions,' Zo explained in an insightful interview conducted by writer Mark Glubke to accompany the publication of McGuinness' text. Her remarks point to the complexity of both the role and our responses to it. Electra wants terrible things but it's impossible to ignore the fact that she's suffered terribly too. 'David's vision of it is that the play is about love, families and the destruction of families,' Zo added. 'For me, it raises the question of what becomes of the children of war. What will become of those kids when they become 20? What have we created?'

The production drew parallels between Electra's suffering and that of the children caught up in late twentieth-century conflicts, such as those affected by the Bosnian War. Leveaux writes persuasively in the Donmar's theatre programme that 'the arguments of the play are so fundamental, and so originally human, that they literally echo down through history' to reach our ears. As shown at the top of this article, one of the images designed to publicise the production features a photo of Zo or Electra as a child with Electra as an adult just visible in her eyes. The image is a subtle reminder that Electra finds herself trapped in her past, unable to move on from the terrible events of her youth. She therefore brings the emotional instability of childhood to bear on her behaviour during adulthood.

The immediacy and 'physicality' of McGuinness' adaptation prompted Zo to change her usual working methods. 'When I create a role, I usually do quite a bit of research. For this play, I did a little bit, but I didn't go any further than I thought would be necessary for the bare essentials of this play. I wanted it to be completely new and fresh,' she told Glubke. McGuinness' stripped-back retelling of Electra's heart-stopping, heart-breaking story brought Ancient Greek drama into the late 1990s and resonated powerfully with contemporary audiences. The Times' Peter Stothard called the production 'an Electra for today', its relevance making it all the more powerful.

'What I love about Frank's adaptation is he's pared Sophocles down to the fishbone,' Zo also told Glubke. The language of McGuinness' version is fierce and urgent yet suffused with poetry, as exemplified by Electra describing her formidable determination: 'I have harmed myself by the harm done to me. I know the hardness of my heart. But as long as there is breath left in my body, I will not change direction no matter how harmful.' Zo captured the mood of the intense production, which ran for an hour and a half without pausing for an interval, by describing it as 'startlingly modern'. The compelling text, staging and performances enabled theatregoers to look on an ancient story with fresh eyes. As Zo concluded, '[Electra] became a new play'.

'This will be remembered as the production in which Zo Wanamaker staked her claim to greatness,' Charles Spencer emphasised in the Telegraph. His praise was echoed by numerous other critics; in particular, the Financial Times' Ian Shuttleworth was hugely impressed by Zoe's 'towering performance' and the Guardian's Michael Billington drew attention to her 'genuine tragic power'. Zo won the Olivier and Variety Club Best Actress awards for her portrayal of Electra and caught the attention of Broadway.

Having triumphed in the UK, Electra repeated its success in the US in 1998-9. By the time the show was lighting up Broadway, Zoe's portrayal of Agamemnon's troubled daughter was being hailed as 'a miraculous achievement' (in the words of John Heilpern on Observer.com). She subsequently earned a Tony nomination.

Quoted in The New York Times, Zo summed up Electra as 'a meteoric soul'. By thrilling theatregoers and the press on both sides of the Atlantic, Zoe's portrayal of this compelling character, ancient and modern by turns, undoubtedly became a meteoric success.


Zo photographed for The Birthday Party, Pinter's 'incredible' play

20 October 2017 16:45

Delighted to be able to share with you this striking photo of Zo, which was taken by the talented Idil Sukan during a photoshoot for Sonia Friedman Productions' 60th anniversary West End revival of The Birthday Party. Click here or on the image to see a larger version.

Zo recently explained what makes the play 'incredible'.

Compelling and unsettling, The Birthday Party stars Zo alongside Stephen Mangan, Toby Jones and Pearl Mackie. It'll be staged at the venue named after its legendary playwright, the Harold Pinter Theatre, from 9 January to 14 April 2018. Tickets are on sale now and proving very popular, so do try to book early, if possible.

Thanks to Vanessa for her help.


Doctor Who's Pearl Mackie joins Zo in 2018 revival of The Birthday Party

15 September 2017 17:02

Sonia Friedman Productions has revealed that Pearl Mackie, who rose to fame as the most recent Doctor Who companion, Bill Potts, will appear alongside Zo in the 2018 West End revival of The Birthday Party. Mackie is set to play party guest Lulu, the role Zo herself played in a 1972 production of Harold Pinter's classic, so they're bound to have plenty to chat about during rehearsals.

Speaking to the Radio Times about her 'phenomenal' castmates, who also include Stephen Mangan and Toby Jones, Mackie emphasised, 'I'm so excited to be in the room with them, let alone actually share a stage with them I think it will be incredible.'

The Birthday Party will be staged at London's Harold Pinter Theatre from 9 January to 14 April 2018, with its opening night on 18 January. Tickets are available now and selling fast.


Zo to star in 60th anniversary revival of Pinter's The Birthday Party

12 September 2017 22:56

Zo's next theatre production has been announced and it's very exciting! She's set to star in a 2018 West End revival of Harold Pinter's The Birthday Party, celebrating the classic play's 60th anniversary. Appropriately enough, the show will be staged at the theatre named after the renowned playwright. Zo's co-stars are Toby Jones and Stephen Mangan (you'll find great cast photos on Facebook).

As the production's official website makes clear, The Birthday Party's plot is dark and intriguing: 'Stanley Webber (Toby Jones) is the only lodger at Meg (Zo Wanamaker) and Petey Boles' sleepy seaside boarding house. The unsettling arrival of enigmatic strangers Goldberg (Stephen Mangan) and McCann disrupts the humdrum lives of the inhabitants and their friend Lulu, and mundanity soon becomes menace when a seemingly innocent birthday party turns into a disturbing nightmare.'

Produced by Sonia Friedman and directed by Ian Rickson (who've been behind a number of critically acclaimed productions of Pinter's work), the revival will mark the second time Zo has performed The Birthday Party. She originally appeared in the play as Lulu during a British Council Far East Tour early in her career, in 1972.

The news of what the Guardian calls '[a] star-studded new West End production' has attracted plenty of attention in the theatre press, with articles by The Stage, Whatsonstage.com, Broadway.com, BroadwayWorld.com and more. In addition, BBC Radio 4's Today programme has aired an interview with Toby Jones and Pinter's widow, Lady Antonia Fraser, about the play's enduring appeal.

The Birthday Party runs at the Harold Pinter Theatre from 9 January to 14 April 2018, with its opening night on 18 January. Tickets are available now and being snapped up, so it's a good idea to book early if possible.


News round-up: see Zo in epic Britannia trailer; Girlfriends filming; and Gawn rehearses new play

31 August 2017 22:26

First-look Britannia trailer released

Sky Atlantic has released the long-awaited and fabulous! trailer for historical drama series Britannia, plus an eye-catching photo of Zo as formidable Celtic Queen Antedia (click here for a bigger version).

Our first glimpse of the show's epic vision of ancient Britain, its fierce inhabitants and similarly fierce Roman invaders suggests that Britannia will be tense and atmospheric, with stunning cinematography and elements of the supernatural.

The trailer has met with a hugely positive response from Zo's fans and peers alike, with fellow actress Kim Cattrall and director Metin Hseyin among those praising her.

Zoe's Britannia co-stars include David Morrissey, Kelly Reilly and Mackenzie Crook. The series will premiere in Cannes on 16 October. As a recent press release from Sky makes clear, we can expect to see Britannia on TV 'early next year'. It'll be shown on Sky Atlantic in the UK, Ireland, Germany and Italy, as well as on streaming service NOW TV. US fans will be able to watch Britannia via Amazon Prime Video.

Girlfriends filming passes the half-way mark

Rollem Productions has revealed that filming for the last three episodes in ITV's six-part Girlfriends, another hotly-anticipated drama series starring Zo, began on 23 August. The programme is being made in and around Leeds and York.

Zo will play Gail, part of a troubled trio of friends, in Girlfriends, which also stars Phyllis Logan and Miranda Richardson.

Look out for it on ITV in 2018.

Zo's husband to appear at the National Theatre

Zo's husband, Gawn Grainger, recently began rehearsing Saint George and the Dragon for London's National Theatre. Here he's pictured with John Heffeman, Olwen May, Amaka Okafor, Jeff Rawle and other members of the company.

Welcome to the NT, #SaintGeorgeAndTheDragon company. You\u0026#39;re looking great. #nationaltheatre #theater #theatre

A post shared by National Theatre (@nationaltheatre) on

Saint George and the Dragon, a new play by Rory Mullarkey, is described by the National as '[a] folk tale for an uneasy nation'. It'll be staged in the Olivier from 4 October to 2 December as part of the theatres 15 Travelex season.

With thanks to Karoline for all her help.


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Most images used on this site are the copyright of their photographer, Ms. Wanamaker, and/or the production company of the show. Use of these images is covered under the fair use limitation in the USA, and the fair dealing limitaton in the UK.
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