Theatre star's funny life

Wellington actress Jessica Robinson.
Wellington actress Jessica Robinson.

Breaking away from the conformity of a British private school to pursue drama has enabled a Wellington actress to become a familiar face on stage.

Jessica Robinson has landed some big roles in the past year, demonstrating how to survive as a working actor - and pay the bills.

The desire to pursue an acting career had always been on her mind, the 31-year-old said.

She was born in Wellington, but moved to London as a child and attended Blackheath High School for Girls. She was expected to conform to the sea of navy jumpers and skirts and bowling hats with gold trimmings, and surrender to the fact that drama was neither taught nor encouraged there.

However, while playing the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz at the age of 9, she found how comfortable she felt on stage, and her love of theatre blossomed.

After secondary school, she moved back to Wellington and studied at Toi Whakaari, and has managed to make both a name and a living for herself on stages around Wellington.

In the past year she's had a rush of acting jobs, including All My Sons, Live at Six, West End Girls and, in several instances, she has had more than one show rehearsal schedule to allocate time for. ''I start most years with entirely nothing or one or two projects lined up.

"It can really be unsettling, but I have decided that's just the way it is."

Although her lifestyle was challenging, she did not envy those with a dreary office life and its stable income. Most people worked for years in a cubicle, where it was easy to avoid your colleagues, but you couldn't avoid people on stage, she said.

She is rehearsing The Truth Game, which opens on October 13 at Circa Theatre.

Robinson is unsure whether she will remain based in "little" Wellington or what other opportunities might come her way. But she is certain how much she loves theatre, despite it being an unconventional career.

"I pretend to be someone else for a living. It's a funny life."

The Dominion Post