Con­fronting our fears

FlightClub tells the story of a sur­re­al­is­tic jour­ney into the hu­man soul.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - ARTS - By TER­ENCE TOH star2@thes­tar.com.my

THEY say in life, it is not the des­ti­na­tion, but the jour­ney that counts. Two men learn this af­ter meet­ing on an air­plane. To­gether, they em­bark on a sur­real jour­ney to con­front the man­i­fes­ta­tion of their fears and in­se­cu­ri­ties, trav­el­ling into their pasts, into their fears, and even into a clas­sic tale of hor­ror.

This is the story of Flight Club, a play that aims to take its au­di­ence deep within the hu­man soul.

Ac­cord­ing to its writer and di­rec­tor, Jude James, he was in­spired to write this story by his friends.

“I wanted to write a story that in 10 years from now, when we look back at it, we will re­mem­ber the chal­lenges and the con­flicts that John and Al­lan faced in the play and that we our­selves went through. How we, as people and friends, are deal­ing with re­la­tion­ships and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, and how we all feel at times like we want to run away – and I thought it would be in­ter­est­ing if one of us ac­tu­ally did. So the idea be­gan there,” James, 28, ex­plains.

Flight Club tells the tale of Al­lan, a 19-year-old pi­anist, who meets John, a 28-year-old gui­tarist, while on a flight to Ma­cau. Al­lan is run­ning away from the re­cent loss of his mother, the bur­dens of his fa­ther, and the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties de­manded by his sis­ter, while John is run­ning away from the shame of his el­der brother, the loss of his for­mer lover and the pain of a tu­mour grow­ing in­side him.

As they tell each other about their lives, they con­jure up in­ner demons and fig­ures from their pasts, forc­ing them­selves to deal with the prob­lems they are run­ning from.

Pro­duced by Rounded Note Pro­duc­tions, the show fea­tures Ismail Ja­maludin, Jun Vinh Teoh, Kian Pit­man, Roland Am­brose and Nisha Nair.

James says he set the play on a plane as his trib­ute to the 1999 cult hit film, Fight Club.

“I al­ways en­joyed the scenes of Ed­ward Nor­ton with Brad Pitt and the con­ver­sa­tion they have on the plane, and there are a few ref­er­ences to the movie in the play it­self,” James says.

Asked which is his favourite scene in the play, the di­rec­tor names a scene at a ma­mak shop.

“I al­ways wait for that mo­ment, be­cause it’s the mo­ment when all the main char­ac­ters are on the stage at the same time,” James says.

“It’s the mo­ment when we see these people talk about their fam­i­lies and their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, things that we all face in our lives. And we get a chance to see if they find the an­swer that we’re all look­ing for or if they make the same mis­takes we do, and suf­fer for it.”

Ac­tor Ismail, who plays John, de­scribes his char­ac­ter as a man of charm and con­fi­dence on the sur­face but full of se­crets and in­se­cu­ri­ties in­side. He feels that the char­ac­ter is so sim­i­lar to him it’s “eerie”.

“Be­ing so closely con­nected to the char­ac­ter, it felt at times that I was star­ing into a mir­ror. And when you see the real you, the you full of is­sues and in­se­cu­ri­ties, the you that you don’t want oth­ers to see, your in­stinc­tive re­ac­tion is to push it away. The hard­est thing was to fight that re­ac­tion, and know that what you are do­ing is for the greater good,” says Ismail. The 26-year-old won the Best Ac­tor Award at the Short & Sweet Theatre KL fes­ti­val last year.

For Teoh, the most chal­leng­ing part of play­ing Al­lan is the char­ac­ter’s fragility: “He’s scared and vul­ner­a­ble, and nor­mally we try to hide those emo­tions; we shy away from them,” says Teoh, 20.

“It’s such a scary place to be in emo­tion­ally, that’s why a lot of the work has been about find­ing the brav­ery to be in that place and be open about it. To be vul­ner­a­ble. Es­pe­cially for guys – we can’t show weak­ness, that’s not what we were taught, even though we feel it. We just don’t show it.”

Teoh says he draws par­al­lels from his own life when play­ing Al­lan.

“I’m pur­su­ing my theatre de­gree in Sin­ga­pore, and, let’s be hon­est, it’s a pretty scary prospect, pur­su­ing the arts. Al­lan wants to be a pi­anist, but he isn’t sure. So I drew my ba­sis from there,” he says.

“We all re­mem­ber that time when you’re 18 and sud­denly you’re sup­posed to be an adult; that’s where Al­lan is. Sud­denly it’s the real world, and you feel like you want to do things, to chase your am­bi­tions, but you don’t know how. I think a lot of us went through that at some point.”

Flight Club will be per­formed at Kakiseni, SSTwo Mall, Petaling Jaya, Se­lan­gor, from Feb 26 to March 2. Shows are at 8.30pm from Feb 26 to March 1, with 3pm shows on March 1 and 2. Tick­ets are RM33 or RM23 for stu­dents/ se­nior cit­i­zens. Visit eventbrite. com to pur­chase tick­ets, call 017907 4834 or visit Rounded Note’s web­site at round­ed­note.com for more in­for­ma­tion.

FlightClub writer and di­rec­tor Jude James (left) with ac­tor Ismail Ja­maludin, who plays John.

For Ismail, his char­ac­ter John was like ‘star­ing into a mir­ror’, and he had to

fight not to hide his feel­ings of in­se­cu­rity.

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