It has been an incredibly busy year for Jakarta Players. The season began with a production of Reginald Rose’s Twelve Angry Men, the famous jury-room drama. Before Christmas there was a one-act show, Beggars Belief, which explored the themes of faith and belief. This was followed by the customary spring musical, John Michael Tebelak’s world-renowned Godspell. And this summer we present our version of J.B. Priestley’s dramatic work, An Inspector Calls; the third JP production in recent years to feature the word ‘Inspector’ in the title.
A wealthy family, the Birlings, sit down to celebrate the engagement of their daughter to a rich young man in the town. The general mood is jovial. Suddenly, a mysterious police inspector arrives with shocking news. A working class girl has died at the local Infirmary. Suicide, of course, but there’s more…
What is the involvement of the Birlings in this unfortunate woman’s life? Could she have been saved? Who is really culpable for her death?
The play, An Inspector Calls was first performed in 1945 as the world’s most bloody war of all time was coming to an end. A recovering world was desperate to know, how could this have been allowed to happen? And more importantly how could it be stopped from happening again.
J.B. Priestley, who hailed from the North of England, blamed the wealthy for the major mistakes and poor political decisions of recent history. Those in positions of privilege, for example company owners, idle rich, Government itself, had to take responsibility for the less well-off: a message that no doubt resonated with the wounded veterans returning from combat. The Labour Government of 1945 – 1951 that set up the National Health Service (NHS) and began paying unemployment and disability benefits is seen by many as the finest British government of the twentieth century.
And is the world a better place now? Well, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimate there were almost a billion under or malnourished people in the world in 2010. Thousands die around the world each day as a result of poverty-related causes. There are currently ten ‘official’ wars/conflicts taking place in the world today that result in over 1,000 casualties a year. What is to be our response?
Priestley set his story in 1912, in the week before the Titanic sets sail, Halcyon days when the position of the privileged largely went unchallenged. A hundred or so years later, some would argue much has changed; some would say the opposite. We have better ‘things’ now. Technology has transformed our lives but have our hearts been transformed?
As I reflected on these various issues while working with the actors, I originally thought the Birlings were bad people, ignorant of the world around them. But directing is an evolutionary process. I began to wonder if the Birlings were that much different to you or I. And if the Birlings need to change, do you and I need to change also?
An Inspector Calls
May 31 – 7.30pm
June 1 – 3.00pm and 7.30pm
June 2 – 3.00pm
Tickets available at: [email protected]
Ticket price: Rp.150.000,- Students: Rp.100.000,-