Tea "alums" in Pinter Play in West End

Tea Time Tidbit for the week of April 16, 2018

Tea Time Tidbit

Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party

Finding myself in London’s West End recently I was spoiled for choice when it came to deciding which play to see. My decision was made easier when I saw that two actors who’ve both appeared in Afternoon Tea programs were in the same show.

Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party features Zoe Wanamaker, who played Susan Harper in My Family, and Toby Jones, who was Lance in Detectorists. Both gave wonderful performances and it was nice to spend an afternoon in their company again.

Tea Time Tidbit

Wanamaker as Susan Harper in My Family

Wanamaker, who turns 69 next month, recalled in a recent interview she gave with the Daily Mail the time that playwright Pinter had her hiding under a table in fear of his rage. The incident happened to revolve around another actor you may have seen on Afternoon Tea – Paul Eddington, who starred as Jerry in Good Neighbors.

Apparently both Eddington and Wanamaker, along with Wanamaker’s husband, actor Gawn Grainger, and Pinter himself, were all starring in Pinter’s play, No Man’s Land. On opening night, they were in a restaurant when someone stopped by their table to congratulate Eddington. The passer-by completely ignored Pinter, who flew into a rage. “He was ranting,” recalled Wanamaker. “Why didn’t he say anything to me? I wrote the play. I was in the play!”

Tea Time Tidbit

Toby Jones

Wanamaker, who was born in New York, moved to England when she was three with her parents, Sam Wanamaker and Charlotte Holland. Both were actors and, knowing the perils of their chosen profession, both tried to dissuade their daughter from being an actress. After a stint in art school Wanamaker reportedly found art too isolating and so enrolled in a London drama school. She has been acting ever since.

Not unlike many actors, Wanamaker is dyslexic, which reportedly makes reading scripts fairly difficult. When making My Family, for instance, Wanamaker relied on stage management to go through the script with her “every single day.” “I have to be word perfect because if there is a word missing, it stops me. That is unfortunately a pain. It is what it is. Having it means I struggle a bit more and I openly say so.”

To contact Heather:
E-mail: heather@mpt.org
Address: Afternoon Tea
Maryland Public Television
11767 Owings Mills Blvd.
Owings Mills, MD 21117

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Afternoon Tea is Maryland Public Television's weekday presentation of British programs.
Our host and Tea Lady is Heather Sanderson.
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