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Jakarta Post

Remembering an overlooked auteur

Jakarta   /   Tue, January 31 2012   /  11:12 am

Lighting up the stage: Theater Bejana performed Kwee Tek Hoay’s Zonder Lentera (Without Light) in Jakarta on Feb. 10, 2011. Antara/Fanny OctavianusThe deep pounding of a large drum and the tinkling of delicate brass instruments signaled the beginning of a recent performance at Toa Se Bio Temple in Jakarta’s Chinatown.Actors who had been mingling in the audience headed for a makeshift stage, and Nonton Cap Go Meh (Watching Cap Go Meh) began.Written in 1930 by Kwee Tek Hoay, the send-up of Chinese tradition set during festivities the 15th day after the Chinese New Year still resonated more than three quarters of a century later.Kwee was a prolific author and journalist and the editor of numerous newspapers, and he made a name for himself in the 1920s and 30s by writing about the ever-changing world he observed around him in what was then the Dutch East Indies. The Bogor-born man of Ch...