'Mahabharata Part 3: Kurusetra War.' (Photo courtesy of the Hiroshi Koike Bridge Project)

Mahabharata Play Observes Human Nature in a Story of the Gods


SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

Jakarta. "Mahabharata Part 3: Kurusetra War," the fourth production in the eight-year-long Pan Asia Mahabharata Project by Japanese director Hiroshi Koike, is currently running at the Graha Bakti Budaya in Cikini, Central Jakarta.

The play, which is inspired by the Indian epic "Mahabharata" and involves artists from several Asian countries, was performed at Taman Budaya in Yogyakarta on Sept 24-25. It opened to the public in Jakarta on Wednesday (28/09) and ends today (Thursday).

The Kurusetra War depicts the feud between two families, the Kuru and the Pandu, in their struggle to seize the throne. As the older family, the Kuru feel they are entitled to sit on the throne. Unfortunately, their eldest son, Duryudana (Lee Swee Kong), is younger than the Pandu's eldest son, Yudhistira (Gunawan Maryanto). The conflict then escalated to a great war that killed thousands.

"It is a complex and rather heavy tale from India but at its core, it is a story about humans," Koike said. "And that's exactly what we are trying to show to the audience."

The play also stars Carlon Matobato (as Kresna), Koyano Tetsuro (as Bima), Riyo Tulus Pernando (as Drestajumena), Sandhidea Cahyo Narpati (as Abimanyu), Shirai Sachiko (as Destarata), Suryo Purnomo (as Arjuna) and Wangi Indriya (as Kunti) in their primary roles. Each actor plays multiple roles and they all talk in their respective native languages. In a scene where Yudhistira shares the stage with Destarata, Yogyakarta-born Gunawan will say his lines in Javanese, while Sachiko will respond to him in Japanese. The translation to Indonesian is screened on the stage's backdrop.

This play is a collaboration between the Hiroshi Koike Bridge Project, Kelola Foundation and Teater Garasi, and supported by the Asia Center of the Japan Foundation and the Jakarta Arts Council.

Koike has produced and directed "Mahabharata Part 1" in Cambodia in 2013, "Mahabharata Part 2" in India in 2014 and "Mahabharata Part 2.5" in Japan in 2015 under the Hiroshi Koike Bridge Project, which he established in 2012.

After the Jakarta play, Koike will take the production to Thailand in 2017, Malaysia in 2018 and India in 2019. The final part of the project will be performed at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, followed by a world tour.

Ticket prices for the Jakarta play range from Rp 50,000 to Rp 150,000 ($3.80-$11.50), available at the venue.