“It’s challenging for young kids, and it forces them to use their imagination in a way they’re not used to.” Nat Jobe
I distinctly remember my first ever ‘concert’ was seeing Hi-5 live on stage. Some of my happiest childhood memories are from watching puppet shows at Spare Parts in Fremantle or school holiday workshops run by the Barking Gecko Theatre Company. Live performance and theatre blew my mind as a kid, and I loved absolutely everything about it. It doesn’t seem to be that way these days, but I do want to emphasise that I don’t think this is a catastrophic thing by any stretch of the imagination. In saying that however, when my five-year-old cousin knew how to use an iPad to watch Peppa Pig on her television before she even knew my name, I did start to question a few things.
Recently, I had the joy of speaking to performer-of-all-kinds Nathaniel Jobe. During my initial research, the first thing I noticed about the WAAPA Graduate was his eclectic list of credits. He tells me that he’s “glad his career is at a point where he isn’t being pigeonholed. It enables me to be a lot more creatively fulfilled”. Nat is a stage performer, dancer, screen actor, and choreographer who’s been involved in some of the brightest Australian comedy this year. His latest endeavour is starring in the lead role of the stage adaption of the Leigh Hobbs’ book, (which some might even consider one of the pillars of Australian children’s literature, Horrible Harriet.
“She’s just so different to me… she’s brash and unashamed and not afraid to be who she is and I think that’s really important for young kids to see” Nat states. By the look of the set and costumes, to call this show bright and bold would be a great understatement. The aesthetic of the show, conceptualised by stage designer Mark Thompson, is as zany and daring as Harriet herself. Nat described it to me as being “almost as if it was drawn directly onto the stage”. I couldn’t have said it better myself, it perfectly captures the memorable illustration style of Hobbs’ work.
Nat told me that this show and other like it would ignite a love of live performance into young kids. In a world where so much is digital, theatre is a welcome break. A world where anything can happen, it allows a space for something different and in Nat’s words, “special”. “It’s challenging for young kids, and it forces them to use their imagination in a way they’re not used to and teaches them beautiful lessons along the way”, he says.
Our conversation ended with a mutually enthusiastic discussion about one of Nat’s gigs this year. More specifically as choreographer on the ABC show (and one of my personal favourite shows of this year) Growing Up Gracefully starring sisters Hannah May Reilly and Eliza Reilly. With such brilliant, exciting material coming out of Australia as of late, it makes me incredibly happy and hopeful that passionate people such as Nat will be on the frontline.
Horrible Harriet is showing at The State Theatre Centre of WA this October. For more information visit The State Theatre Website.