Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam at Riverside Theatres

This week Rosie spoke with Emma Jackson about her upcoming role in Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam at the Riverside Theatres in Parramatta. Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam explores the nature of an ideal family, the Pollards, who boycott the outside world and its evils, creating a cocoon for a perfect world. Their world is flipped on its head when illness breaches the sanctuary. So, would you die for your child or someone you love? Have a read of more from Emma below:




















Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam is a very familiar title, one seen in songs, poetry, and numerous other texts. Do these texts inform this story?

Yes, it does indirectly in the sense that, both Peter Goldsworthy and Stevie Rodgers, take that image and use it as a diving board to explore the themes of faith and grief. It’s a complex image that can be interpreted in multiple ways, which it makes it ideal to explore on stage.

What originally drew you to Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam?

Initially I was drawn to JWFAS because I’ve always wanted the to opportunity to work with Darren Yap. He and I were at NIDA together many moons ago and I’ve always admired him and his work. Stevie Rodgers is also a dear friend of mine. I’ve worked with him before on a play called FOOD and it’s always such a joy to work with his words. Both he and Darren have some of the biggest hearts I’ve known and this story couldn’t be in better hands. When I first read the play I was a mess.. It’s an incredible confronting story, but one filled to the brim with love and I was very keen to tackle it with this extraordinary team. 

This production will see the world premiere of Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam, adapted from Peter Goldsworthy’s novel of the same name. What about this story do you think makes it important to be brought to the stage?

This story makes us question how far we would go for the people we love. It’s an important story because it is investigating eternal questions of what we believe in, and more importantly what we believe in when we are really tested, when something shakes our foundations.

It is always important to bring new Australian work to the stage. This play is exploring universal question in our Australian accent. National Theatre of Parramatta have prioritised new Australian work since their inception and it is vital that the stories we tell engage intimately with the audience.

The show asks some pretty tough questions about the nature of loyalty and love. What has working on this show taught you about those themes?

It really does. It stretches your heart to full capacity and has forced me think very deeply about what it means to love someone unconditionally and what ramifications my choices may have on other people. It’s reminded me, again, to appreciate what I have in my very fortunate life and not to take anything for granted.

What makes this show particularly relevant to 2018 audiences? What can audiences expect when they come to see this show?

Audiences can expect to experience a story of unconditional love. They will be taken on a journey that will be confronting but hopefully stretch their hearts and minds. It is a story relevant now becausein a busy world, a world of modern science and increasing atheism we rarely get a chance to stop and think on these big questions, to sit in uncertainty. The play dares us to do this.


Favourite production you have ever seen?

I saw this immersive, interactive production of The Great Gatsby at The Gate Theatre in Dublin last year which blew my mind. Audience were encouraged to dress up in 20’s.. They’d gutted the theatre and groups were whisked away and taken on different journeys through the belly of the theatre. Dressing rooms were set up as bedrooms. At one point I was playing poker in a whiskey bar. It was awesome.

You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go?


Dream role to perform?

Martha in Who’s Affraid of Virginia Woolf

Plays or musicals?


Who is your industry inspiration?

Impossible to single out just one.

What’s next for you after this show?

I’m shooting a short film and then some much needed down time! 

Jesus Wants Me for A Sunbeam opens at the Riverside Theatres on October 18th - tickets are available here

Emma Jackson

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