Western Suburbs Weekly - - Front Page - TANYA MACNAUGHTON

UR­SULA John­son (87), of Jolimont, has had a life-long love af­fair with the theatre thanks to her mother, an avid theatre fan.

While grow­ing up in Eng­land, John­son would see a weekly pro­duc­tion with her fam­ily at the lo­cal pro­fes­sional reper­tory com­pany where she “prob­a­bly saw all sorts of un­suit­able plays but it doesn’t seemed to have both­ered me any”.

Her first ven­ture in to the spot­light was at age four as the Spirit of Christ­mas.

It was dur­ing her school days in Cam­bridge (her fa­ther was sent there dur­ing WWII) that John­son met her hus­band-to-be Gor­don on a train. They later mar­ried and his job as an industrial chemist brought them to Australia in 1964.

With two chil­dren, five grand­chil­dren and one great- grand­child, John­son has still found the time to act in more than 70 pro­duc­tions since 1970, in­clud­ing last year’s play The Bro­ken Slipper at Playlovers Theatre and Stir­ling Theatre.

Her role as Red Rid­ing Hood’s grandma saw her named best fe­male sup­port­ing ac­tor at Dra­mafest, one of six Dra­mafest awards for the play. Play­wright Yvette Wall and direc­tor Al­ida Chaney have since formed com­pany Out of the Bag Pro­duc­tions and de­cided to re­vive The Bro­ken Slipper, along­side Marie An­toinette com­edy A Piece of Cake for Fringe World 2015 at Playlovers Theatre, Floreat.

“The Bro­ken Slipper is quirky, mod­ern, well-writ­ten with good dia­logue and the ideas are in­ter­est­ing,” John­son said.

“The sto­ry­line fol­lows this tri­bunal where Grandma is the chair­man, Snow White is the sec­re­tary and there’s the Wicked Witch.

“Cin­derella is brought be­fore the tri­bunal be­cause she’s bro­ken the rules and re­fused to marry Prince Charm­ing, throw­ing her glass slipper at him.

“She’s very re­bel­lious and quite dif­fer­ent in her think­ing from the way Cin­derella usu­ally is. It starts off as a com­edy, the mid­dle is al­most tragic and then the end is some­thing of a sur­prise.”

John­son, a for­mer maths teacher and ac­coun­tant, said her char­ac­ter was au­thor­i­ta­tive and in con­trol of the tri­bunal, strong-willed but with a kindly heart.

“It’s not a grandma sit­ting in her chair with de­men­tia,” she said.

“The chance of get­ting a part for an 80-year-old is pretty few and far be­tween, although I have been very lucky the past few years.

“If I had some­one who would write plays or films for me like they do Maggie Smith or Judi Dench, I would be very happy.”

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie lll.cob­buci­ d433098

Ur­sula John­son in char­ac­ter.

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