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Monday, September 3, 2012


(Jessica Perritt)

artSMart is sad to publish the news of the passing of Jessica Perritt who died peacefully in her sleep on August 7, 2012.

The following is extracted from her daughter Fiona Lincoln’s tribute at her funeral:

Jessica was born Jessica Mavis Reardon on September 2 1919, and grew up in the suburb of Rockdale in Sydney, Australia. She inherited a strong sense of independence from the females in her family, who came from pioneering stock. She attended St George High School and was a good athlete, becoming a champion in the high jump for the St George Athletic Club.

Her father died suddenly when she was 19 and her mother decided that the two of them would take a world tour the following year (1939). This turned out to be an eventful year for Jessica as she met her husband to be on board a train in Europe. She sailed to South Africa a month later and married Ian Perritt that same year. They settled in Springs and had three children

Ian Perritt was a mining engineer and over a period of time was transferred to different mining properties across the East Rand. Jessica became involved with various community theatre groups, travelling to the different mining properties with plays and entertainment, many of which involved the whole family.

Jessica pursued a singing career for some time, attending, by train, weekly singing lessons with an illustrious singing coach in Johannesburg. After her husband’s early retirement, the family moved down to KwaZulu-Natal where Jessica later decided to study to become a qualified Speech and Drama teacher. She enrolled with the Catherine King Drama School in Durban and obtained her Licentiate with the Trinity College of London. She taught speech and drama from home and part-time at several schools and put a fair number of children through their exams. She was an adjudicator for the Speech and Drama Association and made a substantial contribution to the Guild of Speech and Drama Teachers (now the College) in her roles as Secretary and Treasurer.

She supported the arts and was interested in most cultural events, and religiously booked for every ballet performance, musical, concert, play, ice show or pantomime production. She became actively involved in Westville Theatre Club, and directed several plays there, most to critical acclaim. She joined the local branches of the Wildlife Society and the Camera Club, and although not a great photographer, she enthusiastically and diligently took and mounted her photographs and entered the various competitions, taking pride in each small achievement.

She was a pro-active member of the Writer’s Circle, attending their meetings regularly, and had several short stories published in magazines. She enjoyed spending time at the Westville Library and was coerced by them into producing a children’s play at the end of each year. At the end of each production she would say “never again”, but the following year she would start thinking of ideas for the next play.

She put her beautiful diction and elocution to good use and over a period of many years read approximately 60 books and stories for Tape Aids for the Blind.

Jessica appeared in a number of films, including I Dreamed of Africa in which she took the role of Lady Diana Delemere when the production was shot in Zululand.