Gandrik theater company in an earlier performance in Yogyakarta. ( Photo/Danung Arifin)

Gandrik Theater Company Turns Back the Clock With Trademark Satire


APRIL 25, 2019

Jakarta. In the '80s and '90s under the New Order, Indonesian theater company Gandrik gained notoriety for its biting social satire, which often earned the ire of government censors. The company returns to Jakarta this month with another satirical play that pokes fun at corrupt politicians, titled "Pensiunan 2049," or "The 2049 Retirees," which will be on for two days, April 25-26, at Ciputra Artpreneur in South Jakarta.

"We usually play at Taman Ismail Marzuki, which is subsidized by the government. This is the first time we're going to play at Ciputra Artpreneur," producer Butet Kertaradjasa, a famous actor and mimic, said. 

The Jakarta dates will be the play's second run after a successful debut in Yogyakarta on April 8-9.

"We did the Yogyakarta performance before the election, so we had to compete for attention with the presidential campaign. This time hopefully we have the stage all to ourselves," Butet said.

The absurdist play is a send-up of politicians, military men, high court judges and public servants who are forced to undergo a good behavior test after they die before they can get buried. 

"We're imagining if 30 years from now corruption is still rife, and the only way to stop it is by having this ridiculous policy of not allowing dead people to get buried unless they have a 'good death certificate,'" Butet said.

In the play, the good death certificate is given the same acronym—SKKB—as the infamous good behavior certificate that Indonesians have to obtain from the police if they want to move address or apply for a new job.

Apart from Butet himself, the play will also feature other seasoned actors like Jujuk Prabowo, Gunawan Maryanto and Citra Pratiwi.

The play uses an old script written back in 1986 by the late Heru Kesawa Murti, titled "Pensiunan" ("Retirees"). It has been rewritten by Agus Noor and Susilo Nugroho. Djaduk Ferianto will direct the play.

Gandrik was established as a professional theater company in 1983 and straight away won a national drama competition. Its performance often incorporated traditional Javanese elements into a modern plot.

Tickets are available direct from Ciputra Artpreneur at Lotte Shopping Avenue in Kuningan, South Jakarta.