Tony Award-winning British Actress

Jane Lapotaire

Comes to Skidmore College
as the 1998 Fall Convocation Speaker




    On Wednesday, September 9th, 1998 at 8:00 pm world-renowned Jane Lapotaire will deliver the 1998 Fall Convocation speech to the Skidmore Community. The title of her talk will be The Word and it will focus on the importance of the spoken word in the live theatre. On Tuesday, September 8th at 3:30 pm she will conduct a master class for the student actors who serve as the cast for the orientation reading of Arcadia. The class will be held in the Janet Kinghorn Bernhard Theatre and will open to the Skidmore community for observation.

    Jane Lapotaire is one of England's most respected actresses. Although of French ancestry, she was born and educated in England. She trained at The Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and was a member of the Bristol Company for two years where she performed in many productions including The Homecoming, Mrs. Warren's Profession and War and Peace. In 1967 she joined the National Theatre Company at The Old Vic under the leadership of Sir Laurence Olivier. During her four years there she performed leading roles in The White Devil, The Dance of Death, The Captain from Copenick, and The Way of the World and starred opposite Olivier in The Merchant of Venice , directed by Jonathan Miller.


    In 1971 Miss Lapotaire was a founding member of The Young Vic Theatre. Among her many roles there were Isabella in Measure for Measure, Jocaste in Oedipus, and Kate in The Taming of the Shrew. 1974 brought The Young Vic and Miss Lapotaire to New York with The Taming of the Shrew. That year she joined the Royal Shakespeare Company and performed as Viola in Twelfth Night, Sonya in Uncle Vanya, and Lady Macduff in Macbeth. In 1975 she was Rosalind in As You Like It at the Edinburgh Festival and starred in A Room With A View for the Prospect Theatre Company. Lapotaire returned to the RSC as Rosaline in Love's Labour Lost in 1978. That year she created the title role of Piaf for which she won The Society of West End Theatre Award, the Plays and Players Award, the Variety Club of Great Britain Award and a Tony Award for best actress in New York City. 1983 included leading roles in the National Theatre productions of Kick for Touch, Antigone and Venice Preserved. She starred in the West End musical Dear Anyone and in 1984 played St. Joan for Anthony Quayle's company. Other theatre credits include Misalliance and The Archbishop's Ceiling, with the RSC and the inaugural production of L'Aide Memoire in both French and English with the bi-Lingual Molière and Co. She won another Variety Club Award in 1990 as Joy Davidman in Shadowlands. In 1992-'93 at the RSC she played opposite Kenneth Branagh as Gertrude in Hamlet and in 1993-'94 starred as Mrs. Alving in Ghosts for the RSC.

    Jane Lapotaire's latest film was last year's Shooting Fish. In 1995 she starred opposite Anthony Hopkins in Merchant Ivory's Surviving Picasso. Other films include Anthony and Cleopatra, Eureka, Performance, To Catch a King, Napoleon and Josephine, and Lady Jane.

     Among Lapotaire's many television appearances are roles in the BBC's production of The Dark Angel, with Peter O'Toole and the Inspector Alleyn Mysteries. She recently filmed Johnny and the Dead for London Weekend Television; Giving Tongue, directed by Stefan Schwartz; Simisola, a Ruth Rendell Mystery directed by Jim Goddard; Ain't Misbehavin'; and McCallum, a new series. Ms. Lapotaire has also appeared in Playing Shakespeare, Ain't Misbehavin', Antony and Cleopatra, Simone Weill, The Barretts of Wimpole Street, The Captain's Doll, Circles of Deceit, Macbeth, A Curious Suicide, and Big Battalions. She received award nominations for a BAFTA and Emmy in 1977 for Marie Curie and a Broadcasting Guild Award for Blind Justice.

    Recently, Miss Lapotaire created a theatre piece entitled Shakespeare As I Knew Her-a biographical journey of scenes, songs and stories recounting her distinguished career as a Shakespearean actress on stage and screen.

    Lapotaire serves as Honorary President of The Bristol Old Vic Theatre Club and of The Friends of Shakespeare's Globe and is President of the Shakespeare Club in Stratford-Upon-Avon. She has been a visiting fellow at Sussex University since 1987 and is one of the Honorary Associate Artists of the Royal Shakespeare Company. She has also taught with the British American Dramatic Academy (BADA), The actors Center in London, and at Washington University in St. Louis. Her book, Grace and Favour, was published by Macmillan in 1989 and a new book will be published early next year.

     Her latest rave notices in London and New York have come this year as Katherine in the RSC's Henry VIII - -

May 28, 1998, Peter Marks of the New York Times: ". . . Distinguished by the sparkling portrayals of Paul Jesson as Henry and Jane Lapotaire as the first of his six wives, Katherine of Aragon, this superb new staging brings out just about all the luster one could hope for . . .Mr. Doran's human-scale production . . . places the emphasis on the psychological aspects of this political triangle. And nothing goes boom! here [a reference to the cannon that razed the original Globe Theatre early in the 17th century] except, perhaps, for the robust performances by Mr. Jesson and especially Ms. Lapotaire. Swathed in reverent black and engendering sympathy with each solemn sign of the cross, the doleful, sparrowlike Ms. Lapotaire, who won a Tony Award for her portrayal of Edith Piaf, could make an entire production out of manifestations of humility. In fact, when cornered by her tormentor, Wolsey-"Woe upon joo!" she declares in a Castilian accent-Ms. Lapotaire is so grandly put upon, so operatically aware of her shrinking fortunes, she might be playing Maria Callas of Aragon. It's a needle-sharp performance."
JANE LAPOTAIRE as Katherine and PAUL JESSON as King Henry in HENRY VIII
June 14, 1998, Vincent Canby of the New York Times: Jane Lapotaire is very fine as the abandoned wife who tenaciously fights Henry all the way to her eventual house arrest in a second-class castle. It's a tough, proud, unsentimental performance by the actress who, four years ago, starred in the R.S.C.'s memorable revival of 'Ghosts.'


JANE LAPOTAIRE, NATASCHA McELHONE and ANTHONY HOPKINS in SURVIVING PICASSO