The Jakarta Post
Yogyakarta | Wed, June 24 2015
A mother of three oddly introduces each of her family members in a chaotic Lebaran (the celebration marking the end of the Ramadhan fasting month) situation in 2002.
Her eldest son Rosyid, she said, liked to hear preaching but at the same time frequently enjoyed blue films secretly in his room. He also hated the defunct Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and always wanted to go to Afghanistan.
Her daughter Rosnah, who had just come from Hong Kong where she was a migrant worker, had changed her appearance and wanted to go to Jakarta to become an artist.
Her youngest son Mohammad Husen, unfortunately, was mentally disturbed. Meanwhile, her husband did nothing but shoot birds using his rifle.
‘At Lebaran this time, my family is chaotic. Maybe it has been chaotic for a long time, but I did not realize it,’ the mother said.
Here and there, as the mother stands in the front telling the story of her family while her children and husband sit behind her around a big table that has a big piece of meat on it, noisy sounds blared, often blending with her voice.
‘Mom, a cat is eating the meat,’ her sexily dressed daughter Rosnah told her mother, commanding the attention of other people on the stage. They suddenly act like dogs competing for the meat.
That was a scene from the newest production of the Garasi Theater/Garasi Performance Institute.
Entitled Yang Fana adalah Waktu. Kita Abadi (Time is Transient. We are Eternal), the play premiered on Tuesday and Wednesday evening at the Gadjah Mada University’s Koesnadi Hardjasoemantri Cultural Center (PKKH), Yogyakarta.
The performance director, Yudi Ahmad Tajudin, said that the production departed from the reading and reflection of order and disorder, a further exploration and development of previous collective art projects the institute started in 2008.
‘This is part of a trilogy that comprises Je.ja.l.an [The Streets, 2008] and Tubuh Ketiga [Third Body, 2010],’ Yudi told The Jakarta Post prior to the rehearsal on Monday.
He said the works were an attempt to investigate how the explosion of voices and narratives (ideology, religion and identity) in post-1998 Indonesia has created and unveiled tension and violence both new and latent.
‘This is a more reflective journey to the inner world, the interior of the theme,’ said Yudi, adding that the piece wanted to depict and perform how the post-1998 situation in Indonesia affected the new situation and formation of subjects.
Before arriving at the complete presentation, Yudi said, it was initially a short performance of 30 minutes duration entitled Sehabis Suara (After the Voices).
It was staged in March 2014 at Erasmus Huis, Jakarta, and received a warm welcome from the audience.
‘The public reception has become an important encouragement for us to develop After the Voices into a deeper, fuller performance. So, here we are, with Time is Transient. We are Eternal,‘ Yudi said.
The title itself, according to Yudi, was borrowed from the title of noted poet Sapardi Djoko Damono’s 1978 poem.
He said the title of the poem well reflected what the performance really was. It reflected an irony. It reflected the many repetitions, the many unfinished issues, that showed that people never really changed. They were ‘eternal’.
‘I really like the irony reflected in it [the title of Sapardi’s poem],’ Yudi said.
Throughout the performance, violence related to the country’s latent issues of communism, terrorism and stigmatism is indeed pictured in several scenes.
Yudi said he used a juxtaposition approach in presenting the play. As such, apart from the story of the chaotic family, the play comprises collages of personal texts, contemplations and social observations as well as of forms.
He also called the play as a collective work of everyone involved in the play, including the performers, as some of them ‘ such as Gunawan Maryanto ‘ wrote lines while others contributed movements for the play.
Apart from the text they created, text from other sources was also used in the play. They include snippets from Samuel Becket’s Embers, William Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Howard Barker’s Objects.
For audience member Agam Satya Muhammad, the play was absurd in terms of the form used but it successfully pictured what happened in the aftermath of the 1998 reform movement in Indonesia.
Another audience member, Aziz Reza Kandista, expressed the same, saying the play pictured phenomena that one could find in the society.
‘For me, the play makes me realize that it [the phenomenon] is something we have to live with in the real world,’ Aziz said.