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Jane Lapotaire

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jane Lapotaire
Jane Elizabeth Marie Burgess

(1944-12-26) 26 December 1944 (age 75)
OccupationActress (active since 1965)
Oliver Wood
(m. 1965; div. 1967)

(m. 1974; div. 1980)
ChildrenRowan Joffé

Jane Elizabeth Marie Lapotaire (born Burgess; 26 December 1944) is an English actress.

Personal life

Burgess was born in Ipswich, Suffolk, the daughter of Louise Elise (Burgess). Her stepfather, Yves Lapotaire, worked in the oil industry and was originally from Quebec, Canada.[1] From the age of two months she was raised as a foster child by an old-age pensioner, Grace Chisnell (Granny Grace), who was also the foster mother of Jane's own biological mother, a French orphan, who was abandoned in England. When Jane was about 12, her biological mother made a bid to get her back. The child welfare department of the Suffolk County Council intervened and decided that the mother had this right. Jane chose to be with Granny Grace but lived with her biological mother and step-father, who worked in various French oil companies in North Africa (particularly Libya), three times a year. She also adopted their family name. The Lapotaires in North Africa were Francophone and, like French colonials at that time, lived around the French embassy. Granny Grace died in 1984 aged 96 and Louise Burgess in 1999.[2][3]

She studied at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School from 1961 to 1963, the programme was a two-year course at that time unlike the three-year course today. She had earlier auditioned for the Royal Academy for the Dramatic Art (RADA) in London but failed to get in. She joined the Bristol Old Vic theatre company in 1965.[4] She joined the National Theatre in 1967, was a founding member of The Young Vic Theatre in 1970/1971, and moved to the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1974.[5] Her stage credits include:[6]:

  • (Stage debut) Ruby Birtle, When We Are Married, Bristol Old Vic Theatre, Bristol, England, 1965
  • Vivie, Mrs. Warren's Profession, Bristol Old Vic Theatre, 1965-1967
  • Natasha, War and Peace, Bristol Old Vic Theatre, 1965-1967
  • Ruth, The Homecoming, Bristol Old Vic Theatre, 1965-1967
  • Judith, The Dance of Death, National Theatre, London, 1967
  • Antoinette, A Flea in Her Ear, National Theatre, 1967
  • Mincing, later Mrs. Fainall, The Way of the World, National Theatre, 1969
  • Tania, Macrune's Guevara, National Theatre, 1969
  • Zanche, The White Devil, National Theatre, 1969
  • Don Quixote's niece, The Travails of Sancho Panza, National Theatre, 1969
  • Jessica, The Merchant of Venice, National Theatre, 1970
  • Zerbinetta, Scapino, Young Vic Theatre, London, 1970-1971
  • Katherina, The Taming of the Shrew, Young Vic Theatre, 1970-1971
  • Jocasta, Oedipus, Young Vic Theatre, 1970-1971
  • Isabella, Measure for Measure, Young Vic Theatre, 1970-1971
  • Lieschen, The Captain of Koepenick, National Theatre, 1971
  • Lady Macduff, Macbeth, Royal Shakespeare Company, 1974
  • Sonya, Uncle Vanya, Royal Shakespeare Company, 1974
  • Rosalind, As You Like It, Nottingham Playhouse, Nottingham, England, then Edinburgh Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1975
  • Viola, Twelfth Night, Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford, England, then Aldwych Theatre, London, 1975
  • Vera, A Month in the Country, Royal Shakespeare Company, Albery Theatre, London, 1975
  • Lucy Honeychurch, A Room with a View, Royal Shakespeare Company, Albery Theatre, 1975
  • Rosalind, As You Like It, Riverside Studios, London, 1976
  • Title role, The Duchess of Malfi, Bristol Old Vic Theatre, 1976
  • Rosaline, Love's Labour's Lost, Stratford, 1978 then Aldwych Theatre, 1979
  • Edith Piaf, Piaf, Other Place Theatre, London, then Warehouse Theatre, London, later Aldwych Theatre, all 1979 then Wyndham's Theatre and Piccadilly Theatre, both London, 1980 later Plymouth Theatre, New York City, 1981
  • Eileen, Kick for Touch, National Theatre, 1983
  • Belvidera, Venice Preserv'd, National Theatre, 1984
  • Antigone, National Theatre, 1984
  • Title role, Saint Joan, Compass Company, 1985
  • Double Double, Fortune Theatre, London, 1986
  • Misalliance, Royal Shakespeare Company, 1986
  • Archbishop's Ceiling, Royal Shakespeare Company, 1986
  • Greenland, Royal Court Theatre, London, 1988
  • Joy Davidman, Shadowlands, Queen's Theatre, London, 1989-1990
  • Gertrude, Hamlet, Royal Shakespeare Company, Barbican Theatre, London, 1992
  • Mrs. Alving, Ghosts, Royal Shakespeare Company, Other Place Theatre, Stratford, 1993
  • Katherine of Aragon, Henry VIII (also known as The Famous History of the Life of Henry VIII), Royal Shakespeare Company, Young Vic Theatre, 1998
  • Major Tours
  • Katherine of Aragon, Henry VIII (also known as The Famous History of the Life of Henry VIII), Royal Shakespeare Company, U.S. cities, 1998
  • Maria Callas, Master Class, British cities, 1999

She returned to the Royal Shakespeare Company in October–November 2013 as the Duchess of Gloucester in Gregory Doran's adaptation of Richard II with David Tennant in the title role.[7] This was followed in October-December 2015 as Queen Isobel in Henry V.[8][9]

On Christmas Day 2014 she appeared as Princess Irina Kuragin in season 5 episode 9 (the 2014 Christmas Special) of Downton Abbey.

In April 2018 she became the 29th recipient of the prestigious Pragnell Shakespeare Birthday Award[10] and gave the 454th Shakespeare Birthday Lecture on April 20, 2018.[11]

Her performance in the title role of Marie Curie (1977) first brought her to wide attention. In 1978 she performed the title role Édith Piaf for Pam Gems's play Piaf, directed by Howard Davies for the Royal Shakespeare Company, in Stratford-upon-Avon and in London at the Warehouse Theatre, Covent Garden in 1979.

Two years later, the show moved to Broadway. Lapotaire won the Tony Award for Leading Actress in a Play that year.[12]

She was married to director Roland Joffé from 1974 to 1980;[13] they had one son, screenwriter and director Rowan Joffé (born 1973). Following their divorce, she was for a time the partner of actor Michael Pennington.[14]


Lapotaire has written a number of memoirs: Grace and Favour,[15] Out of Order: A Haphazard Journey Through One Woman's Year,[16] and Everybody's Daughter, Nobody's Child,[17] which includes an account of her childhood growing up in Levington Road, Ipswich.


On January 11, 2000, while preparing to teach a course on Shakespeare at the Ecole Internationale in Paris France, Lapotaire suffered a massive cerebral haemorrhage. Four days after her collapse, she underwent a six-hour surgery and spent the next three weeks largely unconscious.[18] She writes about her recovery in Time Out of Mind.[19]


Jane Lapotaire is Honorary President of the Bristol Old Vic Theatre Club,[20] and is President of the Friends of Shakespeare's Globe.[citation needed]

Selected TV and filmography


  1. ^ Profile,; accessed 26 February 2016.
  2. ^ Carole Zucker, In the Company of Actors: Reflections on the Craft of Acting (New York: Theatre Arts Books/Routledge, 1999), p. 78.
  3. ^ "I know what hell is" The Scotsman in
  4. ^ Carole Zucker, In the Company of Actors: Reflections on the Craft of Acting (New York: Theatre Arts Books/Routledge, 1999), pp. 79-80
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Jane Lapotaire rejoins the RSC with a role in Richard II" in
  8. ^ "10 Questions for Actress Jane Lapotaire" in The Arts Desk
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ Young, Marielle. "Stars Who Won a Tony Award and an Olivier Award for the Same Role". The Official Website of the American Theatre Wing's Tony Awards. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  13. ^ According to the GRO at
    Roland V I Joffe married Jane E M Lapotaire in 1974
  14. ^ Daniel Farson, "The Latest Prince", The Sunday Telegraph, July 1980.
  15. ^ Lapotaire, Jane (1989). Grace and Favour. Macmillan. ISBN 0333481038.
  16. ^ Lapotaire, Jane (1999). Out of Order: A Haphazard Journey Through One Woman's Year. Kyle Cathie. ISBN 1856263169.
  17. ^ Lapotaire, Jane (2007). Everybody's Daughter, Nobody's Child. London: Virago. ISBN 978-1844084166.
  18. ^ "I know what hell is" The Scotsman at
  19. ^ Lapotaire, Jane (2004). Time Out Of Mind. London: Virago Press. ISBN 1844080552.
  20. ^ "Bristol Old Vic Theatre Club". Retrieved 14 November 2012.
  21. ^ Gordon, Naomi (11 October 2019). "The Crown will explore Prince Philip's mother's extraordinarily tragic life". Harper's BAZAAR. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  22. ^ "There's Only One Jimmy Grimble". Retrieved 14 November 2012.
  23. ^ "BBC Shakespeare Antony and Cleopatra". Retrieved 14 November 2012.

External links

This page was last edited on 12 September 2020, at 18:03
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