Thu, 09 Nov 2000

Retno infuses 'Suropati' with a new vigor

JAKARTA (JP): Retno Maruti is the noted choreographer who consistently creates her works based on the classic dances of Surakarta, Central Java.

But she has struck a new vein in her latest work titled Suropati, which will be staged on Nov. 10 at Hotel Dharmawangsa in South Jakarta.

Suropati is the controversial hero of a Javanese story. Suropati (Fadjar Satriadi), a slave working under the Dutch during the Mataram kingdom era, falls in love with Suzanna (Susi), a noble Dutch woman. Suzanna, who is engaged to Dutchman Herman (Sentot Sudiarto), also falls in love with Suropati. But in the end, pregnant Suzanna has to leave Suropati and return to her home country as he cannot forget his hatred of the Dutch, which rule his country.

In Banten, Prince Purboyo is persuaded by his first wife, Ratu Sepuh (Retno Maruti), not to resist the Dutch, while his second wife, Ratu Gusik Kusumo (Ruri), wants him to fight back. The prince follows his first wife's advice, inciting Ratu Gusik Kusumo to ask for a divorce.

On her way to see her uncle at Kartasura Palace, Ratu Gusik Kusumo meets Suropati. When he finally takes her to her uncle, the two get married and Suropati is given the position of senopati (commander-in-chief).

His new position opens up new enthusiasm in Suropati to fight the Dutch. The Dutch troops, under Captain Tack, are upset with Suropati as he refused to take part in a cooperative deal with the Dutch. With this development, the play highlights the practice of money politics as the Dutch try to arrest Suropati with the help of locals.

The choreography is full of dramatic idioms, which are different from Retno Maruti's previous works, such as Sekar Pembayun (1978), which was based on Surakarta palace's classic dance, and Dewabrata (1997).

In Javanese traditional plays, there are wayang orang and ketoprak (traditional drama), which also highlight the dialog between characters in the play, either verbally or through Javanese songs. But the theatrical color of the new play, which is organized by Bimasena group, cannot only be identified through its dialog, which is in Indonesian, but also through the movements of its characters, or their costumes, which are similar to those found in other modern plays.

When asked about the use of theatrical elements in her present work, Mbak Utik, as Retno Maruti is fondly called, said that, "The Suropati play, which depicts Dutch soldiers from the old times, gives me more freedom to express ideas. But it's still strongly dominated by traditional nuances".

Suropati marks the new explorations of the choreographer and dance lecturer of the Jakarta Arts Institute (IKJ)'s, although the traditional nuances do not lose out against its modern touch. For further information contact Fitria at 725-8668 or 7236092.

-- Blontank Poer