Culture | Friday, 12 February 2010 | sundanesecorner.org
“Come to my home at twelve. I’ll miss you here,” said Dadi P. Danusubrata, a well-known playwright of Téater Sunda Kiwari (Modern Sundanese Theatre), in an SMS, replying to my request for an interview. He lives in the estate of Pandanwangi in southern Bandung.
When I came to his house before twelve, a couple of days ago, he was sweeping the yard.
It has been three years since he retired from his post as a government official of Town of Bandung, and yet he still active in the TSK.
We chatted at the pavilion. Several portraits, theatre posters, and certificates hanged on the wall, along with trophies. They reveal the odyssey of TSK since 1975.
It was very cold that day, and then a downpour filled the yard. Yet we conversed with enthusiasm and enjoyed hot coffee.
“The idea for founding TSK was derived from a talk between myself and Kang Hidayat Suryalaga [a well-known Sundanese playwright]. It was 1975 when I was the Coordinator of Taruna Karya of Karapitan, organizing youths who were enthusiastically willing to perform a festivity in celebrating the Independence Day. Well, we thought that an acting group would probably encourage their talents. So we founded TSK with some thirty members,” he said.
Since its foundation, TSK has consistently performed modern plays that were written in Sundanese. It is basically different from traditional popular theatre.
Beginning the odyssey with performing festivities in the Independence Day, Dadi and company performed the first production of TSK in 1979. They played Pupuh Mijil Pada by Hidayat Suryalaga.
In the same year TSK performed a play at Rumentang Siang—a well-known theatre in Bandung— for the first time. They played Abah Tuladan. Since then, it has produced several plays that were performed at the theatre, e.g. Runtag, Lawé Rontek, Bon-Bin, Tambang-Tambang, Cempor, Harewos Goib, including a Sundanese version of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.
“Theatre is one of the important mediums that could effectively play role in preserving the language and promoting the culture. Actors would be driven to know our cultural history, tradition, musical instruments, and so on. And the spectators would also know Sundanese tradition and cultural values,” said this father of three.
Dadi was born in Bandung in 1950. His parents are from Manonjaya, Tasikmalaya. His father was a government official, working in the forestry department. When he was an elementary school child, he followed his father to Pematang Siantar, and lived there for a couple of years before returned to Bandung. They moved to Makassar, and Dadi spent his Junior High School years in the town. He has been interested in theatre since his childhood. He also wrote some plays, e.g. Duit and Si Lenyap.
One of the main programmes of TSK is organizing the biyearly Féstival Drama Basa Sunda (Sundanese Theatre Festival). The event was begun in 1990. Due to its achievements, TSK was awarded with Rancagé Literary Award, and gained a recognition from the Museum Rekor Indonesia (MURI).***
Rameli Agam, a Bandung-based journalist