Jesikah by the State Theatre Company of S.A.

Kate Cheel as Jesikah. Photo by Sia Duff
Kate Cheel as Jesikah. Photo by Sia Duff

State Theatre Company SA’s education program is primarily focused on delivering quality theatre to high school students that makes them think, analyse and engage with theatre on many levels. We as the general public get a very small glimpse into this program through just a small handful of performances at the end of the tour and the best thing about it is the pride of knowing that young people are being introduced to challenging and dynamic art such as this.

Adelaide’s young playwright, Philip Kavanagh has progressed leaps and bounds, travelling, studying and being supported by the many notable programs and grant opportunities available to him, all culminating in this commissioned work, Jesikah.

[pull_left]This is a production that breathes youthful exuberance, grounded in a level of maturity through deft direction by Nescha Jelk, Kavanagh’s writing and the performances of Cheel and Hay [/pull_left]

As a young playwright, Kavanagh has a direct link to youth and their generalized obsession, need and drive to be connected to the online world. This short play encapsulates a very real and recognizable essence of this life, primarily through its protagonist, Jesikah, a teenage girl who is, let’s face it, self-centred, superficial and sometimes completely clueless.

Jesikah has started a Youtube style channel and talks about her life, interacts with “fans” online including the exciting and inane moments in a teenage girl’s life. While what she presents online is merely a fiction of her real life, it is the manipulation and calculation of this character and the people around her that really makes you want to slap her.

Kate Cheel is in the titular role and again demonstrates why she is one of Adelaide’s rising young performers. From her body language to her intonation of a very funny Macbeth soliloquy, it’s as if Cheel has studied teenage girls and absorbed their soul. Equally so, her BFF and often punching bag, Denise is embodied by the stunning Elizabeth Hay (who also takes on cringe-worthy depictions of Jesikah’s mum and drama teacher with an accuracy that shoots audiences back to their own teenage years). The two performers are joyfully realistic in their performances and such a fantastic balance to each other and the piece itself.

This is a production that breathes youthful exuberance, grounded in a level of maturity through deft direction by Nescha Jelk, Kavanagh’s writing and the performances of Cheel and Hay. The maturity of the piece comes through in its simple yet effective way of presenting this teenager’s life without lecturing or moralizing and allowing the audience to understand the characters yet not really liking them or wanting them to win… in fact, Jesikah is such a flawed example of a teenage girl, we can only hope that it is the Denise’s of this world that will rise to the top and not the Jesikah’s.

Hayley Horton

Hayley was an arts worker in South Australia for twelve years working freelance for small to medium clients as well as for companies such as the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, State Theatre Company SA, Urban Myth Theatre of Youth and the Australia Business Arts Foundation. As part of her freelance work, Hayley founded the ATG Curtain Call Awards (which is now an annual gala event), co-produced three 24 Hour Show charity fundraiser events, has judged for the Adelaide Fringe Festival and reviewed for Aussie Theatre and the Adelaide Theatre Guide. Hayley now runs a boutique events and arts management business, Footlight Events and in her spare time, is involved with Adelaide’s amateur theatre community as a producer, performer and director.

Hayley Horton

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