Behind The Scene: Reading Centhini: Bukan Cinta Satu Malam
Ok time to recap on the show. This is gonna be a long post, so bear with me.
Well, between 10-13 february 2016, I presented this series of event, Reading Centhini: Bukan Cinta Satu Malam.
It was quite an ambitious one, I guess. 4 different stories, 4 venues, 4 consecutive days. Practically it was 4 events combined in one. Don’t ask me how I did it. It consisted of months of headaches, sleeplessness, stress, emails, whatsapp chats, facebook posts, instagram posts and tonnes of help from dear friends. What can I do without my dear friends.
Really really big thankyou to all the venues, sponsors, crews, additional actor, kind people who let me use their gadgets and helped me to press buttons and greet the audience.
Basically, Reading Centhini: Bukan Cinta Satu Malam was under the theme of LOVE, thus the dates are close to valentine’s day. Tacky enough. And when we see the titles……. #massudahmas, GeGaNa- gelisah galau merana, Icik Icik Ahum and Basah Basah Basah…. even more tacky. Yeaps, they are popular dangdut jargons. There were many questions before, during and after the show regarding few things such as the titles, the songs used, the format of the performance itself and many more. Let me explain few things here in detail.
- Choice of dates and theme of love: love-valentine’s day, quite clear. But through the show I was talking more on love of God, spirituality, inner struggles.
- Why dangdut? In most of my Reading Centhini performances, I use dangdut songs generously and whole-heartedly, be it as music accompaniment or as title of the show. My reason is still the same. Serat Centhini is the most down-to-earth Javanese literature, employing many characters that are commoners, telling stories about commoners. The book itself was written in tembang form, with simple yet vulgar language that is comedic at times, with the purpose to reach majority of the javanese public, which is commoners. The current representation of this “language”, I feel, can be done best with dangdut. The music, the lyrics, very appropriate.
- Format of the performance? In this series, I have to say, a lot of people were confused. I marketed it as a performance, that’s all. Some people were questioning, what kind of performance? Is it theatre? Is it a dance? Is it music performance? Well, you can say it is theatre, you can say it is not. You can say it is dance, you can say it is not. You can even say it is a karaoke show, but you can also say it is not. For me, I prefer to call it performance. My medium is body language. I am not a dancer, i am not a singer, I am not an actor, thus I don’t call it choreography, song or acting. It is just me, telling story with a language that I have since I was born, body language, with the aid of lightings and music accompaniments.
- What is the red thread of the whole series, since it consisted of 4 different stories? Ok this one is rather long. From the 4 stories/performances, there is a gradation of my own understanding towards the concept of nafi and isbat, the concept of two become one and one is practically two. My initial understanding is more towards physical unification, that everything was created in pairs and when half of the pair is gone, the balance is ruined. In episode #massudahmas, this is very prevalent, the unification and separation is really in physical context. When we reach the episode Icik Icik Ahum, the physical unification still existed through the marriage of Amongraga and Tambangraras, however Amongraga gave us a deeper understanding through his teachings. In this episode, we can say that God is actually our ultimate pair, that’s why Amongraga told Tambangraras “what’s eternal is you in your worship”. Then in episode Basah Basah Basah, the unification from two to become one was the ultimate unification, when Amongraga was finally unified with God through the drowning punishment.
- Why are you so fixated with Centhini? Serat Centhini, is an encyclopedia of life, and I believe in that. To put it bluntly, if you are sad, you read Centhini, your sadness will be gone. If you are sick, Serat Centhini gives you the knowledge of natural remedies. If you want to slaughter a buffalo, Serat Centhini tells you the steps. If you want to build a house, Serat Centhini tells you all the calculations of measurements and good dates to build it. If you want to find God, Serat Centhini shows you the way. I myself feel so much helped out in my life by Serat Centhini. I think you would benefit greatly as well, if you read it.
- Why the choice of venues? well, this is purely marketing strategy. If you notice, the venues stretched up from the south of Jogja to the north of Jogja. I am just trying to put audience from different zones into my net. And it worked!
The last question. This came from one audience on the last day, which I think is the best question. Why do you give such suggestive titles with sexual connotations while your content is spirituality?
There are 2 answers for this:
- Marketing strategy-wise. Most people still perceive Serat Centhini as Javanese kamasutra. I am trying to get these people’s attention and give them an alternative point of view.
- Content-wise. In all religion or beliefs, the act of sexual intercourse is the highest form of worship. Because in sexual intercourse, new life (baby) is being created. God is the only one who is capable to create life. During our sexual intercourse, God is present, using our bodies as medium to create life.
Well I guess that’s all for now. Thank you for reading! You can watch videos from Reading Centhini: Bukan Cinta Satu Malam in the “performances” tab in the menu bar.