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Jakarta Post

Ketoprak Tobong: More performers than viewers

Mon, February 26, 2018   /   02:57 pm
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    Ketoprak players get ready backstage. JP/Aditya Sagita

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    An actor applies lipstick before a performance. JP/Aditya Sagita

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    An actor gets ready while two dancers perform on stage. JP/Aditya Sagita

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    Actors pose for a photoshoot before the show. JP/Aditya Sagita

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    One of the scenes of a ketoprak show. JP/Aditya Sagita

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    Actors still perform despite empty seats. JP/Aditya Sagita

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    An actor who plays the character of Arjuna poses in between the show. JP/Aditya Sagita

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    The Kelana Bhakti Budaya ketoprak troupe performs in Yogyakarta every Friday at 9 p.m. JP/Aditya Sagita

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    The situation backstage. JP/Aditya Sagita

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    Actors are reflected in a puddle while they take a break backstage. JP/Aditya Sagita

Aditya Sagita

“We have more performers than viewers. Therefore, we often have to cover the expenses,” said Nelli Vijsma, 65, on the revenue of Ketoprak Tobong Kelana Bhakti Budaya at the backyard of Brayut kampung, Wukirsari village, Cangkringan district, in Sleman, Yogyakarta.

Ketoprak is a Javanese theatrical genre featuring actors who may also sing accompanied by a gamelan.

Nelli’s husband, Dwi Tartiyoso, 70, is waiting for the ticketing counter to serve viewers willing to buy tickets. They both serve customers for the play every Friday starting at 9 p.m.

Ketoprak tobong – which literally means “the touring troupe”, as they perform in makeshift tents – was once entertainment for the masses. In the 1970s, the Condrokirono troupe had performed in Kediri town, East Java. In 1998, the troupe dispersed and Dwi took over all the equipment to start his own troupe, traveling from one town to another before he decided to settle down in Yogyakarta in 2006.

Prior to performing in Cangkringan district, the troupe, which consists of 40 members, lives in Kalasan district, also in Sleman regency. The couple said the location in Kalasan district enabled them to earn more than today.

Each player only gets Rp 15,000 (US$1.13) for transportation fees per show, but they never complain. Instead, they always laugh, despite some leaks in their makeshift tents. The players help each other in putting on their makeup and costumes.

They claim they fell in love with the performing arts even though they barely make any money. [yan]