JOLIMONT 87-YEAROLD ON STAGE AT PLAYLOVERS
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.”
Ursula Johnson in character.