What happens when you take passionate, volunteer actors from all walks of life in Jakarta, grab an extremely well-written script, build a stage and throw the actors on it? Pure magic.
This is the case with the Jakarta Players Community Theater and their most recent production of “Circle Mirror Transformation,” a play by Annie Baker so successful it landed itself on the top 10 list of The New Yorker and The New York Times.
The play’s story promises to entertain audiences with a gentle and captivating mix of laughs, longing and heartache. In a small town, an unlikely collection of strangers sign up for an Adult Creative Drama class, developing relationships over the course of the summer, and through seemingly silly drama games, some real-life drama unfolds.
“Circle Mirror Transformation” is the kind of unexpected gem that sends people into the streets bright-eyed with the desire to spread the word. Playwright Annie Baker develops her characters slowly through their interactions in the weekly drama class, which is the only place the audience sees them. By the play’s end we see the very bottom of their souls, and how their offstage lives gradually infiltrate the classroom, revealing insights and transformations both humorous and heartbreaking. The play is a real treat for the emotions.
The five-man cast is made up of all nationalities and ages: Shultz, a lonely and recently divorced carpenter (Chris Betts, from Australia); Lauren, a 16-year-old high school junior (Hanliya, China/France); Theresa, a former actress (Angela Richardson, Indonesia/UK); Marty, the teacher (Lenore Marcotte, United States); and the teacher’s husband (David Knowles, Britain). Unfolding like a delightfully funny indie film, the group plays the teacher’s imaginative and sometimes awkward theater games, unravelling the subtle beauty that makes “Circle Mirror Transformation” a gem to watch.
The director is English film-maker and lecturer, Andrew Trigg, who is also the Jakarta Players’ president. He explains, “I fell in love with ‘Circle Mirror Transformation’ on the first reading, because of how interestingly the characters and their relationships are revealed and reflected through the drama activities. Sometimes there’s a thin line between drama and real life!”
A non-profit organization established in 1968, the Jakarta Players was originally created to provide English-speaking entertainment for expats living in the capital. Nearly 50 years on, and the group stages around three shows a year, always made possible by hard-working, volunteer cast and crew made up of Indonesians and expatriates alike.
Proceeds from each show are donated to charity, and for this particular show, the JP gang have chosen to donate to local children’s library charity, Taman Bacaan Pelangi. The show’s producer, TV anchor and actress Marissa Anita, has been involved with the Jakarta Players for 10 years. She says, “All profits from this show will go to Taman Bacaan Pelangi, a foundation that provides libraries for children in remote areas of eastern Indonesia. We realize the importance of education and are keen to do what we can to make a direct difference to these children’s lives.”
Taman Bacaan Pelangi’s founder, Nila Tanzil adds, “The foundation works to nurture the love of reading and provide quality books for the children of eastern Indonesia. To date, we’ve provided over 50,000 storybooks, touching the lives of more than 6,000 children aged between 5-13 years.”
“Audiences will identify with this candid snapshot of five distinct individuals at watershed moments in each of their lives,” says Betts, who plays Shultz, a 42-year-old, recently divorced carpenter who finds a new lease of life and much more in the drama class. “Its rich drama will elicit laughter as well as delivering some extremely poignant moments.” The Jakarta Players’ “Circle Mirror Transformation” will grace Jakarta from June 5-7. Tickets are priced at Rp 200,000 ($15) for adults and Rp150,000 for students (you will need a valid student ID).
Be transported to the imaginary world of Shirley and Vermont, and be touched by the lives of these five very unique characters, whilst supporting local creativity and making a difference to children’s lives in Eastern Indonesia.
If theater is a window into the soul, grab your seat and enjoy the ride! 5 June: 7.30 p.m. 6 June: 2 p.m. and 7.30 p.m. 7 June: 2 p.m. Pavilion Apartment Clubhouse, Jl. KH Mas Mansyur Kav 24, Jakarta 1022
Grab your tickets at: http://www.ticketbase.com/events/jakarta-players-circle-mirror-transformation