At a little over than half a century old, the Jakarta Players (JP) still comes to play.
Founded in 1968, JP is the oldest non-profit, multinational community theater group that provides English-language entertainment in the Indonesian capital. It’s an inclusive community that allows members to get involved in any way they can, from acting, directing and producing to helping out backstage with the set design, lighting, props, costumes, etc.
More than a theater group, JP is also a charitable community. All profits from each play or musical they’ve staged throughout the years have been donated to charities that benefit Indonesian families in need. For their upcoming play on May 24 to 26, for example, JP will be donating the ticket sales to Sokola Institute.
The above-mentioned upcoming play is titled Longing for Love, a five one-act plays that celebrates “our wish for human connection – and how we sometimes find it (and lose it) in the most unexpected places.” Characters varying from women in a support group to strangers from different worlds, and a veteran to friends on a train, will come together to explore the deep human need for connection and empathy, “at a time when there’s so much division in the world,“ as co-director Andrew Trigg says.
Globetrotter reached out to co-producer Galuh Alifani to talk more about JP and the importance of Longing for Love in an exclusive interview.
Globetrotter Magazine: JP has been around for a long time, how do you stay current?
Galuh Alifani: I think the key of JP’s long-lasting legacy comes from the commitment of the community itself: The consistency of its community to keep creating and contributing to new things that can enrich theater life in Jakarta - be it new shows, new scripts reading, or small communal activities to keep the community productive and alive. Good pipeline and grooming of new members also keeps the momentum going despite changes that might happen.
Globetrotter Magazine: What does Jakarta Players offer besides performances? Do you provide workshops and for whom?
Galuh Alifani: JP is not only producing shows. In a year, we can do several other activities on top of a show production. Some of the other activities we did in the past includes Open Mic night, Community night, workshops (acting or improv), and play reading.
Globetrotter Magazine: What’s your role in JP and also in the upcoming play?
Galuh Alifani: I am currently JP’s program manager and the producer of JP’s current show production, Longing for Love, together with my co-producer, Yuliani Supandji. As a producer, it’s my responsibility to take decisions and make sure the show will be running smoothly from all angles: Volunteer management, backstage order, set, ticket management, lighting and sound – as far as managing the budget and potential income flow that we can get from tickets, sponsorships, and many more. As a program manager, I help JP organize its program and activities throughout the year and extend its partnership with various organization. Take an example last March, we just had our first joint improv workshop with English First [language course] and their students in Jakarta, since one of JP’s aim is to contribute as much to enrich cultural knowledge of Jakarta’s community overall.
Globetrotter Magazine: Longing for Love stars quite established names such as top actress Marissa Anita and Rizal Iwan who made his US debut in 2017. What are your considerations in selecting the actors?
Galuh Alifani: We always run auditions prior to the show production. These auditions are open for public, and everyone who wants to be part of the play will need to audition, including current members or those who have been with JP for a while.
Heriska Suthapa, one of the directors mentioned that several aspects he looks for before selecting the casts for his plays includes experience, English fluency, resemblance to the role, age or race depending on the role’s need, and matching schedule for the rehearsal and show.
While Andrew Trigg emphasized that the auditions are always open for public and kept in adherence to community theater principles. The only main consideration in casting is whether the actors can do a great job in their roles. In this case, it's very exciting to have established actors act alongside relative newcomers in our shows.
Globetrotter Magazine: How about the play itself? What made you choose to perform this play?
Galuh Alifani: The play was initially decided by the board members of JP as well as decision from the directors. The key thing about this play that made it very interesting is that the essence of it reflects so much to us, as common people, who in its raw form, always longs for love and connection. That in this era of disconnection, it becomes increasingly important for all of us to realize the importance of it, and how relationships, in all aspects, can be very unexpected and scarce at some point. But aside from its deep essence and bittersweet plot, the plays in this production are also comedic and funny. That’s what makes them a unique combination.
Globetrotter Magazine: What do you hope the audience will get from watching this play?
Galuh Alifani: Entertained, but also full of hope and realization, that no matters how bad things go, there will always be a chance for that unexpected moment that will change your life in many possible ways.
Longing for Love by the Jakarta Players opens on the evening of 24 May 2019 and closes on 26 May 2019, with four show times: Friday evening, Saturday afternoon, Saturday evening, and Sunday evening. Price for the ticket is 175,000 and the show will be performed at Institut Francais Indonesia (IFI, Thamrin).
For more information, visit the website here.