Theatre stal­wart still act­ing at 80

Central Leader - - NEWS - By ALAS­TAIR LYNN

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.’’


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