URSULA TESTS THE LIMITS
WAAPA GRAD CAST IN 1984
YOU do not need to have read George Orwell’s dystopian classic 1984 to understand the idea of Big Brother in contemporary society.
Published in 1949, Orwell’s book has always been relevant but has experienced bestseller fame more recently, with credit given to the Edward Snowden case surrounding government surveillance.
The successful 2013 West End production is a retelling of 1984, framed by the appendix, with inspiration also taken from film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
WAAPA graduate Ursula Mills was living in LA when she heard the news that adapter-directors Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan were touring the show in Australia with an Aussie cast and did not let distance get in the way of her goal to play Julia.
“I wanted to connect to a character like Julia, so I fought for the role,” Mills said.
“The audition process was over a few months and because I was overseas, I had to send self takes back to the director. He would give me notes and I would send another one.
“I was so happy when I got it. It’s so iconic and something that will always be relevant.”
1984 follows character Winston Smith, who lives in a world where an invasive government is always watching its citizens.
The production has become known for causing audience members to feel faint or walk out because of the confronting content.
“But then we also had someone in a Sydney Q and A say they felt really underwhelmed because she expected to be fainting and vomiting from everything she’d read,” Mills said.
“Then someone next to her said they had felt quite sick. Different people have their limits in terms of what they can stomach and I think people fainted who aren’t good around the sight of blood. It is quite stylised and the technical aspects bridge that gap between stage and audience.”
The Perth season of 1984 will be the first time Mills has returned to the city since graduating from WAAPA in 2006.
“I look back at my time there so fondly and I think maybe I haven’t gone back until now because I’ve kept it so precious in my mind,” she said.
“My partner is American and I want to show him my drama school; I’m also looking forward to seeing the sun set over the ocean.”
WAAPA grad Ursula Mills (third from left) was thrilled to have won the role of Julia in 1984.