Theatre stalwart still acting at 80
Actress, director and writer Jocelyn McQuaid is proof that age doesn’t matter.
The 80-year-old has been involved in theatre for more than 70 years.
In fact she is currently rehearsing for a role in the Stables Theatre Ellerslie production of Things my mother taught me. The title is rather fitting. ‘‘Because my mother was involved with wardrobe at Wellington Repertory I got involved there,’’ McQuaid says.
She stepped into the limelight at age 10 and it was soon clear that McQuaid was born to be an actress.
‘‘I’ve had a big voice my whole life and it’s been very useful sometimes,’’ the Mt Roskill resident says.
‘‘If you can stand on the stage on the stage of the Opera house in Wellington and be heard without a microphone you never have to worry. From the age of 10 I could do that.’’
As a solo mother with three growing boys to feed, McQuaid had to treat acting as a side project for many years.
‘‘I was still interested in theatre but because of having a family that I had to support I could not do it professionally,’’ she says.
She had jobs with the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation, British High Commission and the Department of Labour.
In 1987 she even had a stint working as a nanny for a branch of the Saudi Arabian royal family.
‘‘It was quite entertaining,’’ she laughs. ‘‘They were quite a rambunctious bunch.’’
It was not until her youngest son Chris was 14 that she was able to fully immerse herself in theatre again.
Regardless, acting is something that has seen McQuaid on stages all over the globe.
She estimates she has directed or performed in about 100 plays in New Zealand and England.
Now at age 80 she insists: not sitting on my hands.’’
Volunteering with Mt Albert Grammar School’s drama department and regular appearances with the Stables Theatre are all in a days work. ‘‘It’s very rewarding,’’ she says. ‘‘It’s not that I feel I have to be out there showing myself off . . . it’s just something I can do and do it well.’’