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'Bawi Lamus' play to present Dayak culture on stage

Liza Yosephine
Liza Yosephine

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Sun, September 30, 2018  /  11:20 am
'Bawi Lamus' play to present Dayak culture on stage

Singer Lea Simanjuntak (center), flanked by actress Sohia Latjuba (left) and "Bawi Lamus" scriptwriter and singer Paquita Widjaja Rustandi, speaks at a press conference in Jakarta about an upcoming performance at the Gedung Teater Jakarta in Taman Ismail Marzuki. (JP/Wienda Parwitasari)

"Bawi Lamus", a theater performance that tells the story of the Central Kalimantan Dayak tribe, is slated to be performed at Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM) in Cikini, Jakarta, on Oct. 13 and 14. 

Former Central Kalimantan governor A. Teras Narang said he had for a while set out on creating a performing arts production based on local cultural heritage, with the aim to introduce its rich history to a wider audience.

Preserving Kalimantan's wealth of natural resources and traditional arts was important for the nation, Teras said.

"Art and culture are the assets of the nation," Teras said during a press conference on "Bawi Lamus" in Jakarta recently. "Central Kalimantan has a rich arts and cultural heritage," he added.

The Dayak are an ethnic group rooted in Indonesia's province of Kalimantan. In the Dayak language, "Bawi Lamus" refers to a beautiful and graceful woman whose energy is said to preserve the natural environment and foster a harmonious relationship among people as those who are submissive to God.

The upcoming performance is set to star actresses Sophia Latjuba and Lea Simanjuntak, both of whom will perform on stage at Gedung Teater Jakarta. 

Writer Paquita Widjaja Rustandi said the story, which is told in four chapters, was inspired by the rich natural charm of Central Kalimantan and the intricate symbols of the Dayak tradition, namely those from the Dayak Ngaju tribe. 

The team researched intensively as soon as the play was first conceived approximately a year ago. 

"One of the difficulties when writing the script was the fact that there was very limited literature to refer to," Paquita said. "That's why we narrowed it down to one tribe as the main focus, namely the Dayak Ngaju, because we found it to be the one that had the most credible sources for references." 

Read also: The tranquil life of the Dayak Iban

Paquita, a fashion graduate from the Parsons School of Design in New York, forged a career outside of her educational background to become a singer and actress before applying her fashion skills in the play by designing the costumes. 

Beyond clothing items, Paquita said, the Dayak tribe's traditional attire included tattoos and accessories, aspects that were highlighted in the production.

Tattoo artist Durga, who is known for traditional hand-tapping Kalimantan and Mentawai tattoo techniques but also utilizes modern machines, designed motifs that will be drawn on the play's performers. 

Meanwhile, renowned designer Rinaldy A. Yunardi created a headpiece, which will be worn by lead Sophia.

Director Jay Subiyakto oversaw the artistic direction, while the music was composed by Erwin Gutawa, whose orchestra will accompany the play live. 

Producer Leo Rustandi said there was also talk of taking the play across the nation and even abroad.

"We also want to expose Indonesia's rich cultural heritage to the world stage," Leo said. (kes)

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