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Queen Elizabeth honours SA actress

2011-06-15 10:04
Cape Town – Queen Elizabeth II honoured South African stage and film actress Janet Suzman, 72, together with fellow British thespians.

Suzman was ordained Dame, the female equivalent of a Knight.

Suzman is now Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for her services to drama. Her cousin, politician Helen Suzman, was ordained Dame in 1989.

Suzman was born in Johannesburg and moved to London in 1959. Her stage career started in 1962 when she starred in Billy Liar in the Ipswich Theatre.
She was a long time member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and played almost all of Shakespeare's female lead roles.

'Drama god'

In 2006 she appeared opposite Sex and the City star Kim Cattrall in Who's Life is it Anyway? and in Dream of the Dog last year.

South African playwright Athol Fugard has referred to her as "a woman of great magnitude".

Founder of the Fugard Theatre Eric Abraham, described Suzman as one of the "drama gods" and that she can keep an audience in the palm of her hand even if she reads from a telephone directory.

British actor Colin Firth received a CBE during the event for his service to drama. Firth received an Oscar this year for his portrayal of King George VI in The King's Speech.


Children's book author Julia Donaldson, known for The Gruffalo, received an MBE (Order of the British Empire) for her services to literature.

In celebration of Suzman's new title, a special retrospective of her films will be screened at the Fugard Theatre in Cape Town in August. Suzman will also make an appearance to answer questions.

The films that will be screened are Nicholas and Alexandra, for which she received an Academy award nomination for best actress; A Dry White Season, opposite Marlon Brando; Nuns on the Run; Priest of Love, with Sir Ian Mckellen and Ava Gardner; and A Day in the Death of Joe Egg opposite Alan Bates.

She also directed the film Othello which stars John Kani and Joanna Weinberg.

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