Space landing for theatre stars

A world premiere of Terrestrial at the Matthew Flinders Theatre will bring an alien production down to earth.

The show also will be a homecoming for Flinders creative arts graduates Nescha Jelk and Annabel Matheson, the director and co-lead actor in the new State Theatre Company South Australia play.

Terrestrial will land at the University’s theatre for the premiere performance at 7pm on 3 May (and an evening preview performance on 2 May) along with two day-time school performances. The play then extensively tours regional SA supported by Country Arts SA before opening at the Space Theatre, Adelaide on 23 May-2 June.

Set in a remote South Australian outback town, the play by Jill Blewett Playwright Award winner Fleur Kilpatrick explores the sense of loss and powers of recollection through an intense friendship between two teenagers.

Liddy, played by 2014 drama graduate Annabel Matheson (pictured below), moves to the remote town with her mother.

Obsessed with alien life, Liddy quickly befriends local lad Badar (played by Patrick Jhanur). The pair embrace their difference and explore the soon-to-be ‘ghost town’.

The plot thickens when Badar disappears.

Annabel Matheson in the new State Theatre Company SA production, Terrestrial. Photo James Hartley.

State Theatre Company director Nescha Jelk (Flinders Bachelor of Creative Arts Hons graduate) says she is looking forward to bringing her latest show to Flinders University.

“It’s really exciting to be coming back to Flinders. It’s a special place for me and a big part of who I am,” she says.

“It’s where I discovered, and grew to love directing,” Nescha says, paying tribute to former teachers such as Dr Anne Thompson who “sat me down one day and suggested I might enjoy directing”.

“I gave it a go and fell in love with something that’s given me a great career trajectory (including a recent gig as resident director at the State Theatre Company SA).

Nescha’s directing debut, in fact, was at the Matthew Flinders Theatre in her 2010 final-year graduation show Tusk Tusk by Polly Stenham.

It also was at Flinders University that Nescha herself befriended a like-minded young playwright Phillip Kavanagh.

Both Nescha and Phillip were acknowledged in the Flinders 50 Creatives during the University’s 50th Anniversary last year. Their tributes hang in the foyer of the Matthew Flinders Theatre.

“Phillip and I are now working on a play as director-dramaturg,” Ms Jelk says, adding she shouldn’t forget to mention the success of her own brother Antoine Jelk whose acting career has taken off since studying at Flinders.

Fellow STC SA and Patch Theatre Company actor Antoine Jelk (Tartuffe, Long Tan, Yo Diddle DiddleBeep) also graduated in 2014 with Annabel Matheson.

“I’m also excited to start rehearsals in few weeks’ time on this year’s Flinders graduation show Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar,” Ms Jelk adds.

“So, in a sense, I’m coming back to Flinders twice this year which will be fun.”

After a Country Arts SA tour – including Noarlunga, Mount Barker, Goolwa, Renmark, Bordertown, Mount Gambier, Tanunda, Port Pirie, Cummins, Port Lincoln, Whyalla, Roxby Downs, Port Augusta and Leigh Creek – Terrestrial will run at the Space Theatre from 23 May to 2 June.

Flinders University alumni who star in the current State Theatre Company SA show Giveaway include director Corey McMahon (MCreatArts ’08), Jude Henshall (BCreatArts(Hons) ’06) and Ellen Steele (BCreatArts(Hons) ’07) who are joining Elena Carapetis, Nathan Page (Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries) and Rory Walker on the cast.

Terrestrial is assisted by the Australian Government through the Ministry of the Arts Catalyst Australian Arts and Culture Fund, along with Country Arts SA, Flinders University, State Theatre Company SA, SA Power Networks and Channel 9.   

 Book for the Flinders University preview and premiere (7pm on 2 and 3 May 2018) of Terrestrial at the Matthew Flinders Theatre, Bedford Park at TryBooking

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