Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Confronting our fears through 'Flight Club'

For Ismail Jamaludin, his character John was like ‘staring into a mirror’, and he had to fight not to hide his feelings of insecurity.

For Ismail Jamaludin, his character John was like ‘staring into a mirror’, and he had to fight not to hide his feelings of insecurity.

Flight Club tells the story of a surrealistic journey into the human soul.

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.

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

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 017-907 4834 or visit Rounded Note’s website at roundednote.com for more information.

Tags / Keywords: Entertainment , theatre , Flight Club , Jude James , Kakiseni , Ismail Jamaludin


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