A silent peformance
Quiet flying: Segera by Bandung’s Teater Payung Hitam was performed in collaboration with French artists at Gedung Kesenian Jakarta last week. (Courtesy of Gedung Kesenian Jakarta)
So twisted is modern life that one’s suffering can serve as entertainment for others or even trigger a smile from the sufferer instead of a cry of pain.
According to Rachman Sabur from Bandung’s Teater Payung Hitam, such was more or less the message behind Segera, a non-verbal play performed by the group in collaboration with French artists at Gedung Kesenian Jakarta last week.
The message, despite being somewhat vague, proved eerily true during the performance.
The show, whose original version was created by Camille Boitel with the title L’Immediat, is a flurry of movements and incidents, emphasizing reliance on physical movements and precise timing.
Segera’s string of scenes started slowly, seemingly depicting a shanty and a stall housing people in the midst of their daily routines. The characters somewhat subtly displayed unnatural paces and decisions in their movements.
As the play increased its pace, scenes revealing breakdowns and seemingly chaotic happenings begin to unfold. The façade crumbles, revealing more landscapes of poverty and frantic movements.
The physical aspects of Segera are indeed impressive and even breathtaking at times, with the actors engaging in stunts such as swinging from stage lights and narrowly escaping falling objects.
The stage set often appeared as if it was brought straight from the streets — in fact reminiscent of slum areas in Jakarta — and the people behind the play said the objects were indeed gathered from various parts of Bandung and carried to Jakarta in a large container.
Segera’s movements often hit the spot in depicting how people frequently become victim to the immediate — be it immediate sufferings, demands or changes of situation. The title itself roughly translates as “immediately”.
However, the show did tend to get repetitive in a few parts, especially in later scenes featuring actors screaming or displaying shock over and over again.
And while those keen on analyzing the hows and whys of society might see the performance as bleak, reflecting perhaps the plight of the modern man or the urban poor, many in the audience, especially the children, laughed with delight at the sight of lingerie-clad male actors dodging objects or appearing on stage with anguished expressions.
“Look, it’s that man again. He must have had the wrong address,” a child’s voice in the audience said as a character appeared to wake up in surprise after being exposed to the audience between moving screens.
Funny and frightening: Segera was created by Camille Boitel and called L’Immediate. The performance features a flurry of mute movement and realistic stage props. (Courtesy of Gedung Kesenian Jakarta)
The laughter seemed to reflect Rachman’s explanation of how misfortune can become the source of entertainment.
“The [show] has its funny sides but also its sad and frightening ones,” one of the younger members of the audience said after the show.
The young boy said he came with his friends from Kampus Diakonia Modern, which is an institution that works to empower street children.
Those behind the scenes said they were hardly troubled by the reactions from the audience toward what appeared to be a depiction of troubled lives.
“This is in fact a satire, and something ironic. So it’s like a smiling person who has been in pain so many times that they are well trained for it,” Rachman said.
Boitel said that L’Immediat also caused laughter among the European audience.
“Perhaps it can show that that is just the way we are. We laugh when we see people in hardship,” Rachman said.
L’Immediat has been played 140 times in Europe and the version showed in Indonesia was a product of a two-month-long collaboration between Indonesian and French artists, including creator Boitel.
Segera in Jakarta played as part of the Jakarta Anniversary Festival X commemorating the capital’s birthday, which is officially celebrated on June 22. It is also part of Printemps Francais 2012, which is the annual arts and culture festival held by Institut Francais Indonesia and the French Embassy.
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