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Contesting Culture, Embracing Change
Author:
During the dramatic economic and social transformation of late twentieth-century Indonesia, theatre in Central Java featured a familiar cast of rulers, nobles, clown servants and ordinary people. However these performances were not a repetition of age-old cultural 'traditions'. Instead, by stretching the framework of Javanese theatre convention, theatre troupes challenged dominant cultural and political values. As political pressures intensified in the final months of the New Order regime, these witty, critical performances drew enthusiastic, oppositionist crowds.
The dismantling of repressive state control after the fall of Suharto in 1998 diminished interest in political critiques from the stage, and growing economic weakness caused patronage and sponsorship to dry up. By 2003-04, however, a revival was underway as performers engaged with the politics of regional autonomy and democratization, and actors responded to the devastating Yogyakarta earthquake of 2006 by staging shows in the worst-affected areas to help sustain community spirit and pride in local culture.
Barbara Hatley's account of more than thirty years of theatre activities and social change shows how performers and audiences have adapted, resisted, incorporated and survived. As Indonesian society evolves, Javanese performances continue to engage with ever-changing social contexts, expressing the dynamic resilience and sense of identity of those who stage and watch them.
In: Heirs to World Culture
In: Performing Contemporary Indonesia
In: Performing Contemporary Indonesia
In: Clearing a Space
Volume Editor:
Performance events have long had a central place in Indonesian societies in displaying power, affirming social relations, celebrating shared values, and at times conveying potent political critique. How have they responded to the momentous social and political changes of recent years - the dismantling of the centralised, authoritarian Suharto regime and its replacement with a more open, regionally-focused political system, the rapid expansion of global cultural influence?
Investigations of diverse performance genres from different regions illustrate the way general socio-political processes play out locally, and how particular groups are responding. Exploring performed understandings of identity and community, such studies expand knowledge of a complex, contested period of change in Indonesia and the workings of contemporary performance in giving it expression.
With contributions by Chua Beng Huat, Alexandra Crosby, Barbara Hatley, Ariel Heryanto, Brett Hough, Rachmah Ida, Reza Idria, Edwin Jurriens, Yoshi Fajar Kresno Murti, Neneng Yanti K Lahpan, Ugoran Prasad, Wawan Sofwan, Aline Scott-Maxwell, Fridus Steijlen, Alia Swastika, Denise Varney.