All the world’s a stage, but sometimes a stage can encompass the world.
“Beggar’s Belief,” the latest production by the Jakarta Players, has a cast and crew spanning six countries — Indonesia, the United States, Australia, Singapore, Canada and the United Kingdom — and takes on one of the strongest elements in the world: belief.
The production — being presented over this weekend — is composed of five 10-minute short plays that, on the surface, seem like they have nothing in common.
“The overall theme is belief, whatever you believe — what your boyfriend or girlfriend tells you, religion, magic, purpose in life, just whatever you believe in,” said “Beggar’s Belief” creative director Danny Whitehead.
Whitehead was inspired to create “Beggar’s Belief” after reading “House of the Holy Moment” by Cary Pepper and “LA 8 AM” by Mark Harvey Levine. Although quite different, Whitehead saw a theme of belief coming through.
“Beggar’s Belief” is rounded out by “Self Phone” by Brendon Etter, “Bitter Sauce” by Eric Bogosian and “The Grand Design” by Susan Miller.
Whitehead said he chose these plays because they deal with issues that are relevant to Indonesia, such as religion and connecting through technology.
He tied the performances together through a character he created: the Ringmaster. “The Ringmaster … is a beggar-philosopher and a lot of contradictions,” Whitehead said. “He is the link and leads the audience.”
The plays involve different situations, characters and settings, but they all share a surprise turn and a moment when the characters and viewers are asked to question the strength of their beliefs. It’s an impressive task completed in just 10 minutes.
“Beggar’s Belief” is something different for the Jakarta Players, who usually put on three or four full-length shows a year. Whitehead said the decision was made to include more participants.
“Part of the inspiration was that 10-minute plays would be less scary for actors and directors without a lot of experience,” he said.
One of the main goals of Jakarta Players, is to encourage new people with a love of, or even a mere curiosity about, the stage to join in the fun.
In addition to the belief of the cast and crew, the production also won the faith of some of the playwrights who are featured. “House of the Holy Moment” writer Pepper gave the group a free performance of her play and “LA 8 AM” writer Levine donated all of his play rights.
The Jakarta Players believe that people attending this weekend will enjoy an evening that will entertain and do more than scratch the surface.
“People can expect an evening of entertainment that, at turns, is hilarious, poignant, thought-provoking and contemplative,” Whitehead said.
“Beggar’s Belief” performances take place at 8 p.m. on Friday and 5:30 p.m. on Sunday at Fez bar on Jalan Kemang Raya 78 in Kemang, South Jakarta. Tickets cost Rp 150,000 ($15.60) and include one draft beer and snacks. They can be booked by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting Fez.