The Jakarta Post
Love play: Jakarta’s oldest English-language community theater company, Jakarta Players, is set to perform its latest production 'Longing for Love' in Jakarta this weekend. (Courtesy of Jakarta Players/-)
Jakarta Players, Jakarta’s oldest English-language community theater company, is set to return on stage for the premiere their latest production Longing for Love this weekend.
Directed by Andrew Trigg, Longing for Love will be staged at the Institut Francais d’Indonésie in Thamrin, Central Jakarta from May 24 to 26. Profits will be donated to the Sokola Institute, a charity benefiting the education of indigenous people.
“At a time when there’s so much division in the world, I’m excited to be showcasing plays that explore the deep human need for connection and empathy – and how beautiful it is when you find it. All five short plays are highly entertaining and brilliantly-written. They'll make you chuckle and warm your heart with the sparks and tingles of live theater,” Trigg says.
The production is composed of five short plays on the theme of human connection, and will involve 19 cast members, including Citra Award-nominated actress and TV journalist Marissa Anita.
Along with Marissa, other cast members include Rizal Iwan, an actor who took part in the American play Forgotten Kingdoms at the Rorschach Theatre in Washington DC in 2017.
Before Forgotten Kingdoms, Rizal had been active in Jakarta Players since 2011, with his first play with the company being Twelve Angry Men.
In Longing for Love, his seventh production with Jakarta Players, Rizal will play the role of Stephen, an army veteran living in Manhattan who returns to his old neighborhood in the Bronx to rekindle relationships with old friends and an old flame.
“My character is depressed, at a low point in his life, and is going through a ‘can’t-move-on’ syndrome. I worked with my own memories and experiences when I was going through a rough patch in life,” Rizal told The Jakarta Post.
Even with the slightly dark overtones, Rizal says that his segment is a comedy, so he did not have to go too dark in playing the role.
“But it proved to be challenging as well. The challenge is how to balance this dark place and the comedy, how to make Stephen’s depression funny. The emotions have to feel real and honest, but at the same time, it also has to make people laugh.”
Rizal describes Longing for Love as equal parts comedy and drama, with moods ranging from funny to the bittersweet, intimate to the contemplative.
“Each production has its quirks and highlights. For this one, I found this to be a fun production to be in. We have a large cast, most of them are new to the Jakarta Players, and I’m just so in awe of their performances. It’s really nice to meet and work with new people, as well as the familiar faces. And the show’s material is not too heavy so we can all just have fun with it.”
Jakarta Players, set up in 1968, is the oldest non-profit community theater group that provides English-language entertainment for Jakarta's theater-loving community through heart-warming musicals, compelling dramas, laugh-out-loud comedies and thought-provoking new works.
Co-director Heriska Suthapa told the Post that Longing for Love will highlight human connections in the most unlikely of places, from women in a support group to a veteran returning to his hometown.
“Unlike a standard theater production, we will be performing five different plays. Although we have performed this type of production before, this is the biggest cast we have had so far for a non-musical production,” Heriska said, noting that most of the cast and crew were female including the producers.
According to Heriska, the playwrights had to find five plays with a common theme, necessitating them to read from 30 to 50 plays.
“Finding the five plays was a challenge on its own, but the biggest challenge was scheduling rehearsals for these plays among the 19 cast members. Since we also have two different directors, they have their own schedule. And we only had three months to make this all work, which I believe turned out really well.”
With the production venue lying smack dab in the middle of the Thamrin chaos, Heriska said the performance would still go ahead, albeit with a special attention to safety.
“As the saying goes, the show must go on. We will still perform Friday to Sunday but safety is a priority. We will monitor the situation and make any adjustments as necessary including canceling a performance. Since IFI is located next the French Embassy the security is very secure there and we actually feel pretty safe at that location," he says.
"The best thing about live theater is we never know what can happen but we just need to adjust and perform our hearts out for the audience to enjoy.” (ste)