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Technology meets theater in Teater Koma’s ‘Mahabarata’

Ni Nyoman Wira
Ni Nyoman Wira

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Tue, November 20, 2018  /  02:30 pm
Technology meets theater in Teater Koma’s ‘Mahabarata’

Batara Guru (Rangga Riantiarno) acts in Teater Koma's 'Mahabarata: Asmara Raja Dewa' play on Thursday, November 15, 2018 at Graha Bakti Budaya in Taman Ismail Marzuki, Central Jakarta. (JP/Seto Wardhana)

Teater Koma returns with Mahabarata: Asmara Raja Dewa (Mahabarata: The Romances of the King of the Gods), the troupe’s 154th production. Staged for 10 days from Nov. 16 to 25, the performance takes place at Graha Bakti Budaya, Taman Ismail Marzuki cultural center (TIM), Central Jakarta.

In the story, at first, the universe was said to be empty. Then a god by the name of Sang Hyang Wenang created three spheres and their inhabitants: Mayapada (the high sphere) as the home for the gods and angels, Madyapada (sphere of darkness) as the place for demons, djinns as well as spirits and Marcapada (sphere of the underworld) as the world for giants, animals and wayang (puppets) race.

Sang Hyang Wenang appointed Hyang Tunggal (Alex Fatahillah) to lead them, but it was rejected by Idajil (Aditya Pradipta). Hyang Tunggal and Idajil later fought over the spheres. Although Idajil lost and was exiled after the war, his subordinates still roamed the world and coaxed the wayang race to be unfaithful to Sang Hyang Wenang.

Hyang Tunggal is married with four sons: Antaga (Bayu Dharmawan), Ismaya (Budi Ros), Manikmaya (Rangga Riantarno) and Manan (Zulfi Ramdoni). With each prince had their eyes on the thrones, they were involved were in a quarrel. Manikmaya, later known as Batara Guru, is selected as the leader afterward, while his brothers are punished for arrogance.

Read also: Teater Koma to add modern touch in upcoming ‘Mahabarata’ play

However, all is not well even after Batara Guru earns his new title, as he still receives punishment for manipulating his brothers. Penned and directed by Norbertus “Nano” Riantiarno, Mahabarata narrates how Batara Guru learns from his karma. 

Compared to the troupe’s last play Gemintang, Mahabarata takes a step further in merging technology and theater. Three projectors are installed in front of the stage to show videos as the story’s background or main scenes. While some videos look real and help to portray various scenes, other times they can feel redundant.

The troupe has been known for making extraordinary efforts with its props, such as in Opera Ikan Asin (Salted Fish Opera, 2017) and Opera Kecoa (Cockroach Opera, 2016). In this particular play, however, they seem to rely more on technology.

Mahabarata was said to be written by Vyasa in 500 B.C., and Nano also brings his modern touches to the stage through music and costume. Designed by Rima Ananda, the characters’ quick costume changes are especially noteworthy.

Tickets for Mahabarata are available online with prices starting from Rp 75,000 ($5.13). (wng)