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Dame Janet Suzman (Clare Park)

Dame Janet Suzman

The career of actress, director, and writer Dame Janet Suzman began in 1962, when she starred in Billy Liar, joining the Royal Shakespeare Company a year later and playing a wealth of Shakespeare's leading female roles. In a career spanning five decades, she has played almost the full list of Shakespeare's female leads, including Kate in The Taming of the Shrew, Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, and Ophelia in Hamlet, as well as having directed adaptations of Othello and The Cherry Orchard. The Johannesburg, South Africa-born actress and niece of the anti-apartheid activist Helen Suzman was also nominated for an Academy Award for her first film lead in the 1971 film Nicholas and Alexandra. After graduating from the University of the Witwatersrand and studying for the stage at LAMDA, Janet Suzman started her career in the United Kingdom with the Royal Shakespeare Company's blockbuster opening season production, The Wars of the Roses, at Stratford-upon-Avon. Roles as Portia, Rosalind, Katharina, Beatrice, Lavinia, and Cleopatra followed.