The Jakarta Post
The Jakarta administration entertained thousands of schoolchildren from underprivileged families on Wednesday with a musical addressing one of the nation's most serious problems: religious intolerance.
Titled Aku Anak Indonesia (I am an Indonesian Child), the musical drama commemorated National Children's Day with two performances at the Theater Jakarta playhouse, located in the Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM) arts center in Cikini, Central Jakarta.
The performances were held in advance of the observance of National Children's Day on July 23 to coincide with the school holiday.
The musical was the eighth Jakarta children's art performance produced by Yayasan Putera Bahagia Jaya, a foundation chaired by Tatiek Fauzi Bowo, the wife of former Jakarta governor and current Indonesian Ambassador to Germany Fauzi Bowo.
'We've consistently held a children's performance every year,' said foundation secretary and event chair Tresnowati Gito.
The plot revolves around five best friends ' each embracing a different religion ' who all play on their junior high school's basketball team.
The initial joy of making the cut turns sour when religion gets in the way.
Laksmi, Berta, Kristina, Cita and Maya, the captain, are at odds to find time for practice without missing time for worship as the big game approaches.
Working together, they beat a path to victory ' sacrificing for each other and overcoming differences.
'We can be the national players in the future, after all,' said Maya.
The cast and the choir were selected from the participants of the foundation's Life Skills Program, an annual city-funded event aimed at developing the self-esteem and personal skills of children from impoverished families.
They were students of SMP 18, SMPN 28 and SMP Muhammadiyah 16 state junior high schools in Jakarta.
Cornelia Agatha played homeroom teacher Nanda. The stage queen's lively acting brought another dimension to the stage ' as well as laughter from the young audience.
The production was directed by Tjut Nyak Deviana Daudsjah, the famous maestro of classical and jazz music who studied at several renowned European conservatoires before founding the music school, Institut Musik Daya Indonesia (IMDI).
Deviana used children's songs composed by AT Mahmud and Saridjah Niung Bintang Soedibjo, popularly known as Ibu Sud, who is not well-known among many children nowadays.
'It's heartbreaking seeing children sing songs from Frozen but they have never heard of Indonesian children songs,' Deviana said. 'We picked the songs composed by AT Mahmud and Ibu Sud, because they have lively tunes children can sing along with in the way children are supposed to.
Project manager Niken Asterina, a student of IMDI, said that the students in the cast and choir had practiced dozens of times with vocal trainers from IMDI. 'The live orchestra was also made up of and directed by IMDI students,' she said.
The costumes were provided by renowned designer Carmanita, a granddaughter of Ibu Sud.
Acting Jakarta governor Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama attended the first show and officiated at the start of this year's Life Skills workshops for 1,700 students and 170 teachers, to be held in the foundation's house in Cimacan, West Java.