Home > Pers > Play showcases artistic world’s dynamic capacity
mainteater | Kliping Berita | The Jakarta Post | 20 Oktober 2000

MELBOURNE, Australia (JP): What differentiates theater from the cinema, it seems, is the ability of each performance to assume a specific and distinctive character.

The moment you walk into the Black Box Theater at the Victorian Arts Centre you feel a kind of intimacy as if the audience knew that they were going to share an extraordinary experience. And as is the case with most ofLa Mama presentations, there was a blend of tension and anticipation in theair, the audience feeling they were being led to take part in something dangerous.

The fairly small theater with a capacity of 90 seats was nearly full on the opening night, and the subdued lighting of the opening scene made the red rugby shirt worn by the main character, played by Indonesia’s Wawan Sofwan, stand out.

Happy 1000 … 1000 Bahagia by Mainteater, an independent group of Indonesian and Australian theatre artists, is a dark play depicting the final moments of a man before his suicide. It unravels, in a spasmodic but disturbingly real way, the mental slide into full psychosis, of a writer-journalist driven by his overwhelming desire not only to make a modest splash in the sea of an incomprehensibly dense and busy world, but to be someone outstanding, adored and revered by the public. Each failure pushes him further and further into desperation and increasingly desperate acts.

Cleverly adapted from a one-man monologue play by Austria’s Peter Turrini, Happy 1000 … 1000 Bahagia is brought into life by three actors, the factual character played by Wawan Sofwan and his two shadows cum alter-agos, by Tiffany Ball and Jodee Mundy.

While the focus is held on Wawan Sofwan with his monologue in Indonesian,Tiffany Ball, delivering the English version, and Jodee Mundy with her Australian Sign Language interpretation, are equally essential to the presentation.

Ball and Mundy are not always following Sofwan; in some scenes they interact with him, thus complementing his movements. Though the three are often in different spots of the newsprint covered stage, throughout the play they come across as one, thanks to the tight choreography, synchronized delivery, and very finely operated lighting. In some scenes, such as the one portraying the character’s imagination of being on fire, all these aspects come into a magnificent interplay.

The play lasts for an hour and a quarter relentlessly without a break.

It is indeed not a performance that can be broken anywhere, because of the tension and momentum that has to be maintained. This poses a slight problem of audience exhaustion. Sitting through a darkly intense play for that length of time is not the same as laughing our way through a comedy, where the laughter alone could provide some degree of physical relief.

Wawan Sofwan’s depiction of a depressive-psychotic character is eerily convincing. His whole body as well as his facial muscles are all working hard in the dramatic delivery. It is in fact a very physical performance for the three actors.

Sandra Long, who translated the script into English as well as directing the play, said that Jodee Mundy helped enhance the visual aspects of the English translation, making it more compatible with the sign language interpretation.

Happy 1000 … 1000 Bahagia, which will be staged at the theater until Oct. 22 before touring to nine venues in Indonesia, is clear evidence of the unlimited cross-cultural and cross-national capacity of the artistic world.

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