'I am very happy to make this website, designed by Liz, official.'
ZoŽ Wanamaker CBE
My name is Liz, and I manage the website. For details of when and why it was created, please see the section about this website.
ZoŽ has an official Twitter account that she runs with her PA, Vanessa. Do feel free to say hello!
Sam Wanamaker Playhouse:
You can donate to the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, and find out more about this project to recreate an indoor Jacobean theatre, on the Shakespeare's Globe website. ZoŽ, who is Honorary President of the Globe, talks about the history and significance of the project in a video by the theatre.
Guestbook - To sign the guestbook, please click the picture below. Your comments are much appreciated.
6 January 2014 22:59
BBC News has published a fascinating article about the newly opened Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, in anticipation of the first season of plays there, which begins on 9 January with The Duchess of Malfi.
Discussing the Playhouse's origins, the article points out that 'Sam Wanamaker, the father of actress ZoŽ, came up with the idea of a pair of theatres - one outdoor, the other indoor - to represent the varied theatrical landscape of late Elizabethan and Jacobean London.
'The first half of the plan - the Globe - came to fruition in 1997. But the indoor Jacobean theatre has not existed until now.'
If you would like to learn more about the history and purpose of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, you may be pleased to know that BBC Radio 4 has broadcast a documentary about this indoor theatre, Staging a Revenge: The New Jacobean Theatre, which is available to listen to online for the next seven days.
31 December 2013 19:20
As the New Year is almost here, let's look back at some of the highlights of ZoŽ's professional life in 2013, a year particularly memorable for its new beginnings, fond farewells to wonderful characters and theatrical success.
March: Wodehouse in Exile
In March BBC Four screened the moving drama Wodehouse in Exile, which explored author PG Wodehouse's experiences of the Nazi's propaganda battle during the Second World War. As The Stage commented, ZoŽ was 'in fine, fierce form' in the role of Wodehouse's feisty wife Ethel (as is clear from this clip from the programme). Ethel 'was outspoken and outrageous, a much more worldly character than her husband,' Zoe observed in an interview.
April-August: Passion Play
From April to August, ZoŽ appeared on-stage in Peter Nichols's darkly funny Passion Play. She starred as music teacher Eleanor, whose husband James has an affair with the couple's carefree friend Kate. The revelation shakes the marriage to its core, and the couple's alter egos reveal the private turmoil behind the public facade (as exemplified in the show's trailer below). Directed by David Leveaux, who also oversaw ZoŽ's Electra triumph and has praised her as 'a devastatingly gifted actor', Passion Play featured several other well-known actors, such as Samantha Bond and Owen Teale.
ZoŽ discussed the strengths of Peter Nichols's work for a feature on BBC Radio 4's Today programme. 'His plays have an undercurrent of pain', as well as 'great humour', she explained. In addition, ZoŽ appeared alongside Samantha Bond on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, discussing Nichols's 'fantastical theatrical device' of the alter egos, which saw the two actresses rise to the challenge of playing halves of the same person. Identical costumes, mannerisms and tones of voice helped Zoe and Samantha become Eleanor's outer and inner selves.
After touring Richmond and Brighton, Passion Play opened in London's West End, at the Duke of York's theatre, in May. Following the press night (at which Zoe is pictured below, in a photo by Paul Clapp), the show received fantastic reviews. In the Telegraph's words, 'David Leveauxís beautifully judged production does full justice to this ingenious modern classic [...] Both ZoŽ Wanamaker and Samantha Bond give deeply moving performances as the betrayed wife while Teale and Cotton capture both the sexual elation and guilty panic of the husband.'
Passion Play, and Zoe's performance in particular, earned international acclaim too. The LA Times described ZoŽ as 'without question one of the finest stage actors in the English-speaking world' in its review of the show.
Passion Play was complemented by a series of lively discussion events during the summer. The first was a thought-provoking pre-show debate with relationship experts and writers, entitled 'Is adultery ever justifiable?' For The Times' post-show Q&A, ZoŽ shed light on the relationship between Eleanor and her alter ego: 'the inner voice comes out when called upon'. Whatsonstage.com's Q&A (below) was also fascinating, as a result of the wealth of insights it offered about rehearsing and performing Nichols's play.
June and October: Ariadne Oliver's last appearances in Poirot
This year ZoŽ made her last two appearances as eccentric crimewriter Ariadne Oliver, as part of the final series of the long-running drama Agatha Christie's Poirot, starring ZoŽ's great friend David Suchet. The first of these two appearances came in June, when ITV treated viewers to 'Elephants Can Remember', in which Ariadne is called upon to investigate the mysterious deaths of her goddaughter's parents, and their link to a case testing Poirot's little grey cells.
David Suchet emphasised how much he enjoys working with ZoŽ: 'When she was originally cast as Ariadne Oliver, it was just a joy. We have such a trust with each other that has developed over the years'.
That episode was followed, in October, by 'Dead Man's Folly', which Zoe had filmed at the same time as performing Passion Play. 'Dead Man's Folly' is particularly significant because it was the last ever episode of Poirot to be made. The plot centres on Ariadne being asked to stage a fictional murder hunt at a grand house's summer fÍte. She suspects that sinister forces are at work and calls on her friend Poirot for help.
As we prepared to say goodbye to Ariadne, Zoe was interviewed about this wonderful character on ITV's Daybreak and also remarked: 'Every day is a highlight, the character is so much fun to play. I've enjoyed reading the books, going through each story and finding out new clues about her. Ariadne's been a joy!'
July: ZoŽ joins Twitter
ZoŽ's official Twitter profile, @ZoeWanamaker, was launched in July. It is managed by Zoe's PA, Vanessa, in collaboration with ZoŽ herself. Please do feel free to say hello!
October and November: National Theatre at 50
This autumn and winter were punctuated by a series of fascinating Q&A events featuring Zoe, beginning in October with the National Histories talk (below). It was given by ZoŽ and her husband Gawn Grainger to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Theatre in London. As ZoŽ remarked during the talk, her encounters with the National began in the 1960s, when she was in her teens. She well remembers being taken by her father, Sam Wanamaker, to watch the National Theatreís famous production of Othello in Chichester, starring Sir Laurence Olivier in the title role. Zoe described Dame Maggie Smithís portrayal of Othelloís tragic wife, Desdemona, in the same production as 'a revelation'.
The talk complemented Live from the National Theatre: 50 Years on Stage, which was shown by the BBC in November. This very special programme celebrated the National's history with highlights from some of the venue's greatest successes, using a combination of live performance and archive footage. ZoŽ's husband appeared on stage; in addition, an extract from ZoŽ's production of The Cherry Orchard (2011), originally recorded for broadcast in cinemas as part of National Theatre Live, was shown towards the end of the programme, when attention turned to the National's recent hits.
November: Sam Wanamaker Playhouse opens
A significant part of ZoŽ's father's original vision for Shakespeare's Globe was realised in November, when a recreation of an indoor Jacobean theatre was opened by the Duke of Edinburgh. At the opening of the theatre, named the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse in honour of the Globe's founder, ZoŽ discussed the venue's significance: 'I am so proud to see the realisation of my father's original vision. Not only is it unique, it is the only Jacobean theatre in London'.
Booking is open for the first season of plays at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, which begins in January 2014.
November and December: more fascinating Q&As
In November the Hampstead Arts Festival held 'Passion Playing'. It offered another opportunity to listen to ZoŽ and her husband discussing their diverse acting careers. When asked which character she would most like to revisit, ZoŽ chose The Cherry Orchard's matriarch. Such is the depth of Chekov's characterisation, 'I felt as if I only touched on the surface' of Ranevskaya, she explained.
ZoŽ's series of talks was rounded off in December by Jewish community centre JW3's fun and wide-ranging 'Out of the Box' event. 'Will you now accept that you are a brilliant actor?' the interviewer Jeni Barnett asked ZoŽ, to cheers from the audience. 'I probably don't believe it,' she replied modestly.
What are your highlights of ZoŽ's work in 2013? I hope that this list has brought back some great memories for you.
All that remains to be said is to wish everyone who vists this website Happy New Year!
24 December 2013 16:59
Below is the lovely Christmas message from ZoŽ that has recently been published on her official Twitter profile.
Similarly, as the manager of www.zoewanamaker.com, I wish visitors to this website a wonderful Christmas and New Year. Thank you for your continued support throughout 2013, the website's eleventh year. I look forward to seeing what 2014 brings for ZoŽ and her fans.
Have a happy and safe festive season!
24 December 2013 16:37
It is the season of goodwill, as ZoŽ ably demonstrated when she helped to raise £10,900 for human rights charity Peace Brigades International on 2 December. She gave a powerful speech about PBI UK's new environmental and land rights defenders project at crowdfunding organisation The Funding Network's Festive Funding Event, held at RBS in London, which you can watch online.
Commenting on PBI UK during her speech, Zoe emphasised, 'I find their work unique and breathtaking'. As she explained, the charity's representatives support rights defenders and often work under extremely difficult conditions.
You can find out more about PBI UK or make a donation via the charity's website.
With thanks to Janet for the link to the video.
9 December 2013 23:34
ZoŽ appears on the cover of this month's Time & Leisure lifestyle magazine (specifically, the edition covering Clapham, Battersea and Fulham), in a photo taken at Shakespeare's Globe's Gala Dinner by the very talented Julia Boggio Studios.
The magazine includes a detailed article about Shakespeare's Globe and new, indoor theatre, the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.
As ZoŽ explains in the article, 'Some of Shakespeareís plays were written for an indoor theatre, and to discover that and how this works will change how an actor approaches it.'