The Jakarta Post
Lively and comedic: The performance of 'Sabdo Pandito Rakjat' was filled with jokes and comedy, keeping the audience engaged and making them laugh. (Image Dynamics/-)
Sabdo Pandito Rakjat, created as a tribute to the legendary dalang (puppeteer) Ki Nartosabdo, was performed as the 22nd stage performance of Indonesia Kita, a program initiated by three playwrights – Butet Kertaradjasa, Agus Noor and the late Djaduk Ferianto.
As a dalang, Nartosabdo was second to none, but his talents went beyond puppetry. He was also the composer of classic Indonesian songs, such as “Gambang Suling”, “Perahu layer” (Sailboat) and “Ibu Pertiwi” (Motherland).
Indonesia’s first president Soekarno also admired Nartosabdo’s vast array of talents and considered him to be an innovative artist and genius who was ahead of his time.
A symbol: Happy Salma as Kunti represents the common people who are forced to be bystanders as politicians fight for power. (Image Dynamics/-)
Sabdo Pandito Rakjat, therefore, takes inspiration from Nartosabdo’s works of art and his life story and presents a message on the importance of upholding a high moral standard.
“Ki Nartosabdo’s interpretations remind us of the importance of digging deeper into what a message means, this is important in every wayang [puppet] play,” Agus Noor, the scriptwriter of Sabdo Pandito Rakjat, said.
“This play is a good representation of how a dalang tries to keep his sanity amid social and political turmoil.”
Directed by dalang Sujiwo Tejo for the Indonesia Kita show, the play tells a story of a puppeteer who tries to stand by his principles and be critical of his surroundings. Like Nartosabdo, he wants to be himself and create new things despite the influence of the community around him.
Classic influences: 'Sabdo Pandito Rakjat' makes references to classic 'wayang' stories to create a new story. (Image Dynamics/-)
Aside from being the director, Sujiwo also played the role of Kunti’s husband. Kunti, performed by Happy Salma, is the mother of Arjuna and Karna, played by Cak Lontong and Akbar. She is caught in a power struggle between her two sons.
The characters of Arjuna and Karna fill the play with jokes and the performances of Cak Lontong and Akbar kept the tone of the show lively and the audience engaged.
Kunti is a representation of the people, who are forced to watch individuals fight for power in the political arena.
Other performers in the show included Marwoto, the GAM trio (Gareng, Joned, Wisben), Butet, Sruti Respati, Bonita, Inayah Wahid, Gita Sinaga and Joe Kriwil.
During the performance, Sujiwo also took on his other mantle as the dalang of the play.
While the script was in Indonesian, some Javanese words were slipped in, binding the show culturally to its Javanese setting.
The musical score for the performance was yet another tribute to Nartosabdo. His pieces decorated the performance and were rearranged by musician Bintang Indrianto, who gave them a jazzy nuance to fit the more modern setting while also integrating the craft of karawitan (traditional Javanese composition).
Sabdo Pandito Rakjat was first performed on Dec. 2, 2016 at Taman Ismail Marzuki in Central Jakarta. On Aug. 8 to 9, the Bakti Budaya Djarum Foundation and Indonesia Kaya, livestreamed the performances on YouTube so they could be enjoyed by the audience at home.
The Writer is an intern at The Jakarta Post