A series of events called "Remembering Rendra", featuring poetry readings, plays and discussions, were held in remembrance of the late leading Indonesian poet and playwright W.S. Rendra, whose birthday fell on Nov. 7.
Several prominent artists took part in the events, held at the Salihara Theater in Pasar Minggu, South Jakarta on Friday and Saturday.
Rendra died on Aug. 6 from complications related to coronary heart disease.
One of the most interesting performances was the play Kereta Kencana (The Golden Chariot), an adaptation of Eugene Ionesco's Les Chaises (The Chairs). Kereta Kencana tells of an old couple who are trapped in their imagination, unable to face reality. The play ends tragically with their pair's suicide.
The production, directed by Putu Wijaya, was staged Friday and Saturday, starring Ikranegara and Niniek L. Karim as the husband and wife.
Rendra was known and respected not only for his poems, plays and cultural essays, but also for his social and political activities.
He is said to have been one of Indonesia's greatest poets, motivating countless people through his timeless creations.
His poems also inspired the development of narrative poetry and ballads.
On Saturday, Sapardi Djoko Damono, a poet and professor of literature at the University of Indonesia, led a discussion of Rendra's poetry at Salihara. Sapardi is one of the country's most popular contemporary poets, after the legendary Chairil Anwar and Taufiq Ismail.
During the discussion, he focused on the pieces he considered to be Rendra's best works, such as "Sajaksajak Sepatu Tua" (Old Shoes Poems), "Ballada Orang-orang Tercinta" (The Ballad of Beloved People) and "Orang-orang Rangkasbitung "(Rangkasbitung People).
"Rendra is known as a puppet master who was clever at telling stories. That's why many people call his poems ballads," Sapardi said.
"As a puppeteer, he moved his puppets in the fi ctional world, the same world we are facing now. His works are rich in social and political criticism."
Sapardi noted that Rendra had successfully turned the relationship between God and humans into a fun game, without any borders or prejudice, such as his poem "Doa Malam" (Night Prayer).
From the 1950s, Rendra's poems and plays were the heartbeat of the Indonesian struggle for freedom of expression and social justice for the powerless.
The poetry discussion was followed by poetry readings by actress Ine Febriyanti, playwright N. Riantiarno and veteran actor Slamet Rahardjo.