McTeer, Janet

▪ 1998

      In 1997 British actress Janet McTeer, little known to U.S. audiences, took New York City by storm after making her Broadway debut in Anthony Page's revival of Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House. With a commanding stage presence (she stood 1.85 m [6 ft 1 in]), the striking blonde delivered what was described as a "perfect" performance as the childlike Nora. She evoked a gamut of emotions, ranging from sensitivity to sensuality and from vulnerability to boldness. For her portrayal she won a Tony award for best actress in a play.

      McTeer was born on May 8, 1961, in Newcastle, Eng. At the age of 17, she left her hometown to enter the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. In 1984 she made her stage debut at the Nottingham (Eng.) Playhouse in Mother Courage and Her Children. Following that performance she worked steadily either on stage, in film, or on television. It was her work as a classically trained stage actress, however, that defined her career.

      Among her theatre credits were roles in plays by Shakespeare and Chekhov and performances with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Queen's Theatre, Manchester Royal Exchange, and the Royal National Theatre. McTeer was nominated for Olivier awards for her leading roles as Mary in Timberlake Wertenbaker's The Grace of Mary Traverse (1985) and as Yelena in Chekhov's Uncle Vanya (1992). On U.S. television she appeared in such "Masterpiece Theater" productions as "102 Boulevard Haussman," "Precious Bane," and "Portrait of a Marriage," in which she starred as British novelist Victoria ("Vita") Sackville-West. McTeer also was the voice of Sackville-West for the 1996 audio book In Your Garden. McTeer's British TV performances included roles in the miniseries "The Governor" (1996), and such made-for-TV films as A Masculine Ending (1992), and Dead Romantic (1993), and she also appeared in motion pictures, among them Half Moon Street (1986) and Carrington (1995).

      McTeer believed that "you can [touch people] via a camera but it's good to have direct contact with an audience." She accomplished that while perfecting the role of Nora in Britain, first on radio and then at the Playhouse Theatre in London. For her performances there she was the recipient of an Evening Standard and an Olivier award.

ANTHONY L. GREEN

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Universalium. 2010.

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