After a lifetime telling other people’s stories, television and theatre actress Caroline Johansson has found joy writing travel memoirs with a literary edge she tells Clare Kennedy
Caroline Johansson, who began working as an actress in the late 1980s, is perhaps best known for her role as nurse Donna Manning in A Country Practice from 1987-1989.
Looking for a change of direction when that role finished, she went to New York for two years to study at HB Studio with German actress and drama teacher Uta Hagen. Upon her return to Australia in the early 1990s, she worked for several years (until the mid-1990s) with theatre group Theatre South, based south of Sydney, and toured Australia performing young people’s theatre. This was followed by around 15 years of teaching and directing work with performing arts schools and arts organisations.
But about five years ago, a new vista opened up. After years of telling other people’s stories as an actress and later as a director of student productions, Johansson discovered she loved to write. A friend helped her set up a blog, and she has been writing travel articles ever since.
The focus of her blog is literary travel. “There are food and adventure travel blogs, but no one was really doing literary travel. Books and travel are my two great loves,” she enthuses.
Johansson, who lives in Redfern and has a day job with performing arts school Reddam House, aims to publish quarterly. Some of her articles are based on recent travel while others are based on past journeys. Cambridge and Virginia Woolf’s classic A Room of Her Own, Copenhagen and Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales and San Francisco through the lens of Armistead Maupin are among the subjects she has so far covered.
“It’s really about passion. My whole career has been like that. It’s not really been about money-making ventures. I’m just trying to follow my heart. I’ve had the ups and downs of being an actor and trying to survive, and I’m still doing what I love,” she says.
Next up, she plans to blog on legendary Australian author Ruth Park and The Harp in the South, a story based in south Sydney where Johansson lives. A trip to Dublin to channel the legendary wordsmith James Joyce and his masterpiece Ulysses and a trip to Istanbul to write about 2006 Nobel literature prize winner Orhan Pamuk and The Museum of Innocence are on her bucket list.
At this stage Johansson is blogging for love, not money, she explains. “I don’t want to have to write to deadlines and have that pressure, but keep the love for what I’m doing alive.”
But she’s open to the winds of fortune. “If there are some fringe benefits that would be nice! It’s a matter of putting my voice out there.” In time, she hopes to present her work at writers festivals, and is keen to bring sponsors on board, such as book and travel companies, when she builds a following.
Meanwhile, Johansson hopes to motivate people to read and travel. “I want to encourage people to get as many experiences as they can in life, rather than be bogged down by material possessions.” Now that’s something worth writing about.
You can find Caroline’s blog at carolinesbooklist.wordpress.com
Photo supplied by Caroline Johansson.