Last night (18 May 2009) I attended a Monday night performance/discussion event at Jl Gatotkaca 7, Wirobrajan, the house of Alianto. This was another intimate, small-scale exploratory event attended by leading Yogya figures in dance, music, theatre, art and tv/film. The night was rainy and not everyone who had intended to come arrived. We started late as well. Pardiman, leader of the vocal group Akapela Mataraman offered a beginning for an interactive performance. Actually, two beginnings - the performance had to restart when Alianto left to get a video camera to record the event.
In the first event he introduced himself (in a mix of Javanese and Indonesian) as a servant of the master of a royal house. Restarting, he said he was a seeker of mystical knowledge, who had just completed studies of the esoteric art of prasasti under a respected guru figure. He asked us first to clap. Then he showed how a birth day can be turned into sound. For example '3 March' was two repeated sung 3 figures (3/3). We each presented our own interpretation of our dates of birth, then sang these together and Pardiman improvised a melody over this. He then said that objects also have a sound. He made a number of sounds that mirrored architectural forms. He then approached a pillar, with both hands outstretched in front of him, and an Islamic melody emerged. He explained that the saka was bekas mejid (once part of a mosque). We were instructed to applaud agin. This ended the event.
A discussion slowly got under way. Alianto said that this was a good way for Pardiman to travel as a solo performer - while his full group required at least 7 performers, in this way he could draw sounds out of an audience. A number of people spoke about the need to develop this dramatically in order to make an audience engage with the concept, and also to think further about the structure of the event. Pardiman said that he thought clapping itself could be played with - and conducted us in clapping.
A rather more free discussion followed - in which I spoke briefly about my book-in-progress for Palgrave, and others present (some of whom had heard me speak at Garasi, others at Sanata Dharma) chimed in their thoughts and impressions and provided valuable research leads. Alianto then suggested that I lead a discussion at Wirobrajan on the theme of performing Java in Europe. I left Wirobrajan well after midnight but the discussion was still going on, facilitated by the introduction of Korean alcohol. One event leads to another, leads to another....