Yesterday (2 May) I spoke to Pascasarjana students at Universitas Negeri Semarang and rushed back to Yogyakarta in order to see Tiga Perempuan, a new play by the Padangpanjang-based theatre company Teater Sakata, at Teater Garasi.
I arrived late and thus missed the opening but saw enough to make it worthwhile blogging about it.
Teater Sekata was formed in 2000 and has performed a mixture of Indonesian and European plays by Ionesco, Wisran Hadi, Genet, Riantiarno etc. Tiga Perempuan (Three Women) was the first script by Sakata actress Via Suswatia, directed by Tya Setiawaty. This play performed by three youngish actresses concerned three Minang women living together in a traditional house (rumah gadang) - one with many boyfriends, another who is preparing to leave Sumatra to study, a third who is a faithful wife.
Much of the language was in bahasa Padang - which made the play difficult to comprehend - and the acting style was prone to over-the-top melodrama with shouting, crying etc.
What was wonderful though was the integration of live Dendang Saluang music - a constant backdrop to the action. The final scene in which one of the three women is left alone on stage in a state of emotional distress near to terror. She is joined by the two Dendang Saluang performers who rock back and forth with her as they make music. Her emotions, her lifestory and confusion, becomes mixed with the music of tradition. A stunning tableau.