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Regional identity and national theatre in South Sulawesi.

In September 1999, while attending an arts festival in South Sulawesi's capital Makassar, I anxiously watched CNN's footage of post-referendum violence in East Timor, a violence which evoked both a sense of the brutality of the Indonesian military and its surrogates, and of the possible cataclysmic breakup of Indonesia as a nation-state. Yet by day, in the remnants of Dutch colonial buildings such as the Benteng Fort Rotterdam and the Societet de Harmonie, now ironically symbols of the nation-state's sovereignty and of its sometimes troubled links to the modern arts, I continued to participate in the Makassar Arts Forum '99 festival, which conjured up a sense of the ultimate unity of an Indonesian community in contrast to CNN's images of the East Timor horror. The unity of the Makassar Arts Forum '99 was rife with tensions and varied aspirations, however; not the least troubling of these was the fact that a festival that desired to see itself--and be seen by the rest of Indonesia--as a national festival featured the name of its regional host city and said nothing explicitly about the national-level desires of its organisers.

Here, I want to think about issues of centralisation and regional autonomy in contemporary Indonesia--a prominent feature of post-Suharto public discourse--from the angle of modern national theatre. My aim is to examine the stylistic, thematic, and discursive tensions involved in a regional theatre community's attempts to mould its own distinctive identity over almost five decades. Using the history of Indonesian art theatre in Makassar (or Ujung Pandang, as it was known for much of the New Order), I will investigate the processes that led to the imagining and formation of a regional identity within a national cultural practice and circuit as well as the way in which that regional identity eventually resurfaced to make more egalitarian claims within the national culture.

The formation of such a regional identity within an urban national cultural sphere involves great tensions and complexity, however. It cannot be assumed to be a transparent translation of local traditions into more modern forms, nor, once asserted, is it fixed for all time. Instead, a regional cultural identity is part of a process of the changing relations between centre and region within a national culture, and is also intertwined with the relationship of regional cultural workers to their local audiences as well as to each other.

The context of South Sulawesi's national theatre

Politically, South Sulawesi has a long history of both passionate defense of, and equally passionate rebellion against, the Indonesian state. (1) The history of South Sulawesi's Indonesian theatre community, in contrast, offers little evidence of such a bifurcation of allegiance. From the mid-1950s to the present, Makassar's art theatre participants have generally seen themselves, and been regarded from the centre, as a part of a national theatre community. As early as 1955, while Kahar Muzakkar's putative Darul Islam rebellion was still very much alive in the province's mountainous interior, organisers of a South Sulawesi-wide theatre festival proudly announced that theirs was one of the first such events in Indonesia, and that they saw their effort as an attempt to raise the quality of drama as one facet of the nation's culture. (2) In this announcement regional pride and national commitment are fused, not seen as conflicting or separate.

During the late Sukarno era, many Makassar modern drama and theatre workers engaged in some of the same social criticism and culturally polarised struggles as their counterparts elsewhere in Indonesia. For example, young playwright and director Rachman Arge, who would also become one of the key figures in Makassar theatre in the 1970s, wrote his 1963 play, Pak Direktur (The agency director), as a criticism of corruption within the top levels of local government. In this work, the director of a government agency engages in cronyism and corruption, selling commercial permits and arranging to get convicted colleagues out of prison. At the same time, he is a womaniser and has gotten several gullible young women pregnant out of wedlock. His actions eventually disgust his long-time comrade-in-arms and current bodyguard, Kasim, who feels great sympathy toward the ordinary people in whose name the revolution/war of independence was fought. This coupled with the suicide of Tini, one of the young women the Director has seduced and impregnated, leads Kasim to finally break with the Director at play's end: 'Now I hate you just as I hate colonialism, as I hate your kind who pervert the meaning of the revolution, who pervert the meaning of history, who pervert the meaning of the people!' (3)

In Kasim's language we detect the radical tenor and some of the key words of the late Sukarno period--anti-colonialism, revolution, and the people. And the play is in many respects similar to the 'revolutionary realist' anti-capitalist and anti-bureaucrat plays being created by contemporary Indonesian leftists, save for the fact that the Director is not caught in the end and his critics, Kasim and the despondently pregnant Tini, do not have the backing of a leftist organisation to help them bring the Director to justice, but rather face his transgressions as individuals. Pak Direktur contains only a hint of an oppositional collectivity in Kasim's closing threats to the Director and his invitation to the doomed, suicidal Tini to marry him. The play's brief preface, however, also points to the rising tensions of the mid-1960s in its effort to reassure viewers and readers that the play is intended to reaffirm the principles of the national revolution:
   We all love the revolution, and therefore we all love the
   institutions that control it. But the fact that these institutions
   misuse this most holy revolution causes us to launch our criticism.
   It's not out of hatred, but rather to restore our mentality and
   personality to their proper place, to an awareness of the
   revolution itself, to the full potential of our nation based upon
   love. This story was created for that purpose. (4)


The cultural polarisation that characterised much of Indonesia between 1963-65 also left traces in Makassar. For instance, during roughly this period a number of national cultural organisations, each affiliated to a particular political party or religious grouping, established branches in Makassar. These cultural organisations, much like the parties and groups that supported them, engaged in meetings, polemics, and contentious ideological and artistic competition with one another. Most prominent among the national-level events provoking controversy and conflict within Makassar arts circles was the 'Manifes Kebudajaan' (Cultural Manifesto) affair of late 1963, in which a number of prominent intellectuals and cultural figures took a position opposing political direction for the arts. This Manifesto was seen by leftists as an attack on the socially committed art which they advocated. At one meeting in Makassar which had been called to muster support for the signatories of the Manifesto, denunciations of the Manifesto were aired and even Rachman Arge, then leader of the theatre group Front Seniman Makassar (Makassar Artists' Front) and by no means a leftist, was reported to have declared that he would not support the Manifes Kebudayaan unless it were the product of a Nasakom (5) gathering. (6) Yet the tensions of the time were not confined to an axis pitting leftists against moderates, conservatives, and religious groups. There was fierce rivalry, for instance, amongst the local branches of national Islamic groups (Lesbumi, HSBI, ISBM, and Laksmi (7)) in South Sulawesi, though nationally they were all supposedly united in opposition to Lekra and other leftist groups. (8)

The presence of these and other branches of national cultural organisations in South Sulawesi once more offers a picture of the way in which Makassar cultural workers were connected to a sense of the nation from the early post-independence years. (9) Similarly, R. Anderson Sutton recounts how during the mid-1960s acclaimed South Sulawesi choreographer Andi Nurhani Sapada even designed dance dramas--a form never before seen in the province--based on Indonesian and South Sulawesi historical figures and events in an effort to increase South Sulawesi's visibility as a competitive participant in national culture, just as many of her counterparts in Java and Bali were creating similar dance dramas such as the sendratari. (10) Fahmi Syariff, in his survey of the development of Indonesian art theatre in South Sulawesi, highlights the fact that Makassar theatre groups participated regularly in national theatre festivals and meetings, mounting performances at seven such festivals between 1971 and 1999. The performances were usually by a group tellingly called Teater Makassar. (11)

Teater Makassar was essentially an ensemble made up of leading local performers from various theatre groups for major local or national performances, and organised through the Dewan Kesenian Makassar (Makassar Arts Council). As such, it suggests that Makassar's theatre workers regarded the national festivals as 'peak' occasions for which the city's most creative performers should be mobilised and united. Aside from patriotism, especially strong in the 1950s and '60s, what gave rise to this wholehearted commitment to the new national culture by regional cultural workers living far from the capital city, Jakarta? I can think of at least three major factors:

Western education/attraction of modernity

Those who had had a Dutch colonial education were predisposed to the kind of modern, urban culture which had grown up around the nationalist elite, (12) a modernity expressed for instance in the 1920s-30s Balai Pustaka-era attacks against what its writers saw as the restrictive confines of adat (traditional custom). (13) Few among the post-independence elite had received such an education prior to independence in 1949, however. (14) Yet even for others, including those coming of age and educated after independence, the idea of modernity still held an attraction--a connection to the dynamic concept of the new nation-state or the possibility of individual identities not confined to clan and ethnic affiliations, for example. (15) This latter, younger group did not necessarily feel alienated from or reject traditional culture, yet some of them felt the need to rework aspects of local culture and project them onto a modern, national frame. Andi Nurhani Sapada, who was among the Dutch-educated elite, clearly embodied this aspiration to participate in the modern in both her loyalty to the new nation-state and her re-choreographing of local ritual dances into shorter, secular versions representing the culture of South Sulawesi on national and international stages. (16)

Use of the Indonesian language

While Bahasa Indonesia was a trade language which many could speak at a basic level, in pre- and immediate post-independence years it was only coming to be spoken fluently by a small minority, spearheaded by the nationalist movement and its cultural counterparts who had proclaimed Indonesian as the national language. This meant that early on, the growing numbers of fluent Indonesian speakers with a taste for culture would have tended to be concentrated in the urban enclaves, and to associate use of Indonesian language with nationalism, modernity, and urban life and culture. Following independence and the introduction of national language education, Indonesian became a means to reach a wider audience of like-minded people across ethnic divides at the local and national levels through modern media such as books, radio, and newspapers. Such connections to growing potential audiences and writers/theatre workers from different ethnic groups or islands reinforced the idea of national belonging for cultural workers.

Dominant literary/theatrical ideology--'universal humanism'

'Universal Humanism' developed among cultural workers associated loosely with the Sutan Syahrir circle of the Partai Sosialis Indonesia (PSI, Socialist Party of Indonesia)--a party whose members, and those strongly influenced by them, had for much of independent Indonesia's history functioned as something of the 'brain trust' within the nationalist elite. Universal humanism, already widespread in the 1950s, and certainly the dominant aesthetic after 1966, rejected a cultural nationalism based on aspects of traditional Indonesian culture, instead seeing artistic achievement as an international dialogue focused on continual formal experimentation and exploration of individual psychology in order to delineate universal values and dilemmas. (17) This ideology of 'universal humanism' was developed through both practice (Chairil Anwar, Idrus, the early Pramoedya Ananta Toer) and theorising and analysis (Ida Nasution, Asrul Sani, H.B. Jassin, Sitor Situmorang) with substantial influence from the Syahrir/PSI circle of politicians and intellectuals. Drawing on the Syahrir circle's internationalism and its leader's own valorisation of Western culture and literature, the group around Chairil Anwar envisioned themselves as heirs to world culture who would develop it in their own ways. Of central importance here was the originality of the individual artist, whose ideals of constant self-examination and change would keep art relevant to the national struggle. Later, such notions of continual artistic experimentation and psychological exploration were linked to the idea that the goal of both was to explore universal human values. (18) Some of the younger South Sulawesi cultural workers also felt a powerful attraction to aspects of modernity such as the idea of individualism. Take, for example, Aspar Paturusi's novel Arus (The current). Set in the first half of the 1960s, the central character, Sofyan, does not live with his family because he does not want his life regulated and controlled. Sofyan desires to be free (bebas) of such restrictions and wants to be responsible for himself, to 'become himself (jadi diri sendiri). (19)

All of these factors created something similar to the conditions Raymond Williams describes in The politics of modernism, in which migration to the cities and relative isolation from a broad audience (which does not discount a desire to connect eventually with a wider audience) led to the creation of a national artistic community bound together mainly by its commitment to technique, which in turn linked it to international artistic currents. (20)

In the 1960s, Makassar theatre workers envisioned their participation in national theatre through realist/naturalist plays such as Pak Direktur, and performances of translations of foreign works in line with the contemporary national trend of realism and the literary/artistic ideology of universal humanism. One climax of this trend for Makassar theatre workers was the appearance of Teater Makassar at the Pementasan Drama 4 Kota (4 City Drama Festival), the 1971 National Theatre Festival, with Rachman Arge's realist play, Pembenci matahari (The man who hated the sun), (21) a piece representing communism and Islamic humanism as polar opposites in the immediate aftermath of the slaughter of communists in late 1965 and early 1966.

National art theatre's turn to 'tradition' Yet by Teater Makassar's second appearance at a national theatre festival in 1976, the focus of Indonesian theatre had shifted twice: first to a more conceptual, absurdist style which frequently generated caricatural, comedic, and/or poetic dramatic structures; and second, but in part simultaneous and in concert with the first shift, a growing trend typical of postcolonial cultural movements of incorporating elements of various traditional performances into national theatre. National theatre discourse in the 1970s, taking as its key examples performances by the theatres of Rendra, Arifin C. Noer, Teguh Karya, and Putu Wijaya, began to focus more specifically on the role traditional performance might play in modern national theatre. Rendra first brought the trend of drawing upon traditional theatre to general, critical awareness in a few scattered essays from the late 1960s and early 1970s, (22) but this development had complex roots. A number of the key figures in Java had not been exposed to Dutch education and were therefore relatively more reliant on local cultural resources than the previous generation. (23) At the same time, the Western avant-garde were beginning enthusiastically to explore Asian theatre traditions, something Rendra himself became aware of while studying in New York from 1964-66. (24) Finally, during the early 1970s, modern theatre workers in Jakarta performed at Taman Ismail Marzuki in frequent alternation with traditional theatre, thereby gaining a renewed appreciation for the communicative power and artistry of such genres. (25) Goenawan Mohamad most systematically articulated the logic of this development in 'Sebuah pembelaan untuk teater Indonesia mutakhir' (A defense of the most recent Indonesian theatre), a response to Mh. Rustandi Kartakusuma's criticism of Putu Wijaya's play, Aduh (Ouch!), which Rustandi claimed represented obscurantism, incomprehensibility and a lack of national pride in modern drama. In his essay, Goenawan argued in defense of such theatre that Wijaya, Noer, and Rendra were drawing on traditional performance forms in order to revitalise national theatre, to seek new theatrical and creative possibilities, and to involve the audience more completely in the performance. (26)

Accordingly, the theme for discussions held at the 1976 Festival was 'The Influence of Regional Theatre on the Development of National Theatre', which seems to have caught Teater Makassar and its playwright/leader Rachman Arge somewhat off balance. In his paper delivered at the Festival, Arge at first argued that South Sulawesi had no traditional theatre equivalent to genres such as lenong Betawi, or Javanese ketoprak and wayang. But by the end of the paper, he modified his assessment, mentioning several traditional cultural elements from the province that might be drawn upon in order to enrich contemporary performance. (27) Despite his concluding remarks, Arge appeared unprepared to theorise the relationship of regional tradition to national theatre, much less to use these traditions centrally in Teater Makassar's performance at the festival. The latter was Arge's own play, Opa, an experiment with the 'absurdist' style which had become so prevalent in the early 1970s, apparently, in this case, without effectively integrating local performance elements. In 1980, Aspar Paturusi claimed that the production of Opa in Jakarta in 1976 had in fact incorporated elements of angngaru and mabbadong, two cultural forms from Makassarese and Torajan cultures. (28) Yet given the confusion in Arge's 1976 paper, in which he only mentions these two forms as though as an afterthought, it seems unlikely that the elements were actually used in Opa, at least in a conscious or pronounced fashion.

This accords with a Tempo review of Teater Makassar's initial staging of Opa in Ujung Pandang (Makassar) in December 1975. 'Arge ikut "absurd"?' (Arge joins the 'absurdist' trend?), asks the reviewer. Arge's response as recorded in the review was: 'Saya tidak tahu pasti. Barangkali hanya semacam minat untuk mencari kemungkinan-kemungkinan lain.' (I don't know for certain. Probably it's just a desire to find other possibilities.) (29)

In separate conversations in August 2001, two senior members of the Makassar theatre community, Simon Abdul Murad and Fahmi Syariff, as well as Ridwan Effendy, then head of the South Sulawesi Arts Council who has done extensive research on Makassar theatre, confirmed that Arge's play was indeed absurdist in style. (30) Both paper and play were evidence that the group was, in its failure to be sufficiently cognisant of how local theatre and other kinds of performance traditions could be used to enrich its own modern performance style, out of step with the rest of the Indonesian national theatre community. Given the criticisms of Opa by reviewers and the Jakarta discussions of the relationship of traditional regional theatres to national theatre, Teater Makassar returned home from the 1976 Festival anxious to find new forms of theatrical expression. (31)

In fact, Makassar national theatre workers had begun drawing on traditional stories and forms in at least two ways prior to 1976. Groups such as Teater Poseidon and Teater Latamaosandi had rewritten and staged traditional Sulawesi histories and legends which were well attended, (32) and one group had even used elements of the Bugis oral poetic form, sinriliq, for the reading of contemporary poetry and short stories. (33) However, these seem to have been isolated instances. (34)

The impetus for change was evident in Teater Makassar's offering at the succeeding National Theatre Festival in October 1978, I Tolok, again by Rachman Arge, but under the direction of Aspar Paturusi, Arge's successor as leader of the group. Arge's script calls for the use of traditional cultural elements--the oral poetry sinriliq accompanied by the Makassarese stringed instrument, the kesok-kesok, as a narrative device within the play, as well as the frequent use of Makassarese language and phrases which serve to anchor the Indonesian language script firmly in a sense of the local. Movements from dances such as the Makassarese pakarena, the Torajan choral form mabbadong, and the traditional oath of loyalty, the angngaru, were incorporated into the actors' movements and gestures. (35) A final element is the famous duel scene fought out by two badik (a local style of knife)-wielding men within the confines of a large Sulawesi silk sarong. (36) All of this is employed to tell the tale of the death of I Tolok, a legendary Makassarese Robin Hood-like character who robs the Dutch colonisers and their local collaborators, redistributing the wealth to ordinary villagers. The play also engages with ideas of tradition and local culture structurally by placing the sinriliq storyteller/musician at both the beginning and the end of the story--as in a cultural framing device--and thematically through its final scene, which contrasts the sinriliq retelling of the I Tolok story with episodes of the American detective series, Mannix, as they compete for time on the Makassar affiliate of the national television network. Thus, it self-reflexively suggests that local cultural heritage, though perhaps holding its own, is in danger of being lost to Westernised modernisation and the global mass media. At the same time, it ends with an existential question: Why would a powerful man believed to be invulnerable to ordinary weapons knowingly go to meet his death? (37)

'Universal humanism' and 'tradition'

This turn towards local colour and tradition needs to be placed within the general ideological frame that dominated the assumptions and practice of Indonesian theatre workers, 'universal humanism'. The leaders of Tearer Makassar signalled the powerful presence of this ideology in a series of remarks both before and after their transition to a modern national theatre group that also drew upon its local traditions. For instance in his 1976 paper on Indonesian theatre in Makassar, Rachman Arge argued that creative stagnation was the worst enemy of the national theatre worker. (38) Similarly, at the 1980 National Theatre Festival, Aspar Paturusi, while stressing that wrestling with the colour and spirit of one's surroundings was of utmost importance in creating a script and performance, nonetheless still showed a strong interest in the ways in which theatre could speak to audiences across time and space. (39) In his paper presented to the Ninth National Theatre Festival (1985), Aspar, like Arge, also extolled the need for ceaseless creative exploration and experimentation in his comparison of the theatre worker to a traditional Bugis sailor. (40) I noted yet another similar expression of the 'universalist' belief that truly 'great' art can speak across national boundaries and bridge historical eras during a conversation with A.M. Mochtar, a talented playwright and senior member of the Makassar theatre community. Mochtar asserted that the fact that Shakespeare and Aeschylus could still speak to contemporary people proved how important written scripts were. (41) These quotes indicate that while local traditions were important, 'universal' human themes and stylistic experimentation constituted the arena in which such local colour would be deployed. In other words, regionally rooted national-theatre workers such as those in Makassar attempted to give regional stylistic packaging to a still 'universalist' content, or to work with local stories and themes thought to embody such 'universalist' content. (42) Though 'universalism' was a key aspiration in these imaginings, nonetheless this was also a nod to the national in the sense that modern Indonesian culture has since, at the very latest, the beginning of Suharto's New Order regime in 1966, been dominated by just such an artistic ideology. In such a discursive field and practice, regional tradition was explored not only to provide local colour packaging for audiences, to conform to national-level festival expectations of ethnic dimensions to modern performances, (43) but also, and certainly no less important, in order to harness it to the universalist desire for continual artistic experimentation--to be able to break free from the psychological realist or naturalist styles which had dominated the Indonesian art theatre productions from the 1940s through the 1960s.

Aspar's much-lauded play, Perahu Nuh II (Noah's Ark II; 1983), provides a good example of how universalism and local colour and themes were combined to form a script/performance. Directed by the playwright himself, Perahu Nuh II garnered national attention at the 1985 National Theatre Festival.

Opening with an orator proclaiming the need for a group of people to leave an island where there are only dismal prospects of poverty and hardship, Aspar's play proceeds, without much plot, to interrogate the ways in which Indonesians view leadership. This orator and another who climb to a podium or other elevated spot to speak of the need to leave the island are summarily gunned down by unknown assailants, leaving the crowd to speculate on the orators' motivations, shortcomings, or heroic convictions. In the end, a female orator takes command in the fashion of an authoritarian leader and, after forcing the hysterical crowd to overcome its panic, turns the reins of power over to a man who orders them to build a large ship analogous to Noah's Ark. Before they can leave, a corrupt official is found to have sold off a portion of their precious food supply. The leader renders a judgment on the 'Corruptor' and the group prepares to weigh anchor, but before they can set sail, several of them spy a box on the shore. The Corruptor is the first to grab the box and attempt to bring it on board, while the rest try to seize it from him. The Corruptor climbs a mast and opens the box from which a long newspaper unwinds and which the others tear apart and devour. Another figure emerges with a cloth bundle and the group begins to pursue this person. Eventually the bundle is unfurled, revealing a red-and-white cloth (which could symbolise the Indonesian flag). The crowd carries this long cloth and finally, they all are enwrapped in the red-and-white cloth with only their raised fists visible above the material. (44)

It is a play that shows similarities to the experimental style of well-known Jakartan writers such as Arifin C. Noer and, in particular, Putu Wijaya, during the 1970s and early 1980s, which eschew conventional psychological realist dramatic techniques. Characters do not have personal names, but rather, if identified at all, are often signified generically or even in non-descriptive ways (The Orator, The Woman, The Quiet One, The One Who Agrees, The Prominent Figure, Another, A Person). This creates a sense of a mass group rather than discrete characters. Such an impression is reinforced by the fact that many speakers are not even identified at all, effacing the notion of key roles: much of the dialogue thus appears to be delivered by 'nameless masses'. Similarly, though things do happen in the play, there is no strongly causal central plot. Rather, the action and dialogue seem to move ahead based upon associations, agreement, embellishments, or disagreement with what the previous speaker has just said. Here, the discourse drives the momentum of the performance as the players respond positively, negatively, or free-associatively to what the speaker prior to them has just said.

The overall effect is much like mass hysteria and speculation over the few events that do occur, with people frequently jumping to conclusions that later prove to be quite unfounded. It is the minimal series of events and the series of debates they engender, rather than a plot, which maintain the interest of the audience. 'Universal' themes and ideas take centre stage here. The contents of the dialogue -an apparent crisis in which members of the crowd belittle their leaders, idealise them, or call for collective action without waiting for an individual leader to step forward -- seem to suggest common reactions to leadership in Indonesia, but could also be seen to be pointing to more 'universally human' ways of responding to leadership in times of crisis. Furthermore, the crowd's hysteria and frenzy at key points (the terrorist scene which the woman orator, during her time as leader, manipulates, or the final scenes in which the group members greedily and wildly chase those carrying items, and the baseless group speculations about the orators' motives) show the play to be imbued with a fear of mob violence and mob mentality, again a common theme across cultures with special relevance for Indonesia. (45)

However, Aspar's staging of the play also brought out local cultural elements -especially in the play's final third, in which the giant boat replete with masts and sails is readied for the voyage that will take the group away from their impoverished island. This recalls the cultural heritage of the Bugis and Makassarese ethnic groups of South Sulawesi, with their strong tradition of sailing, fishing, and voyaging to new lands in search of fortune. This device offered a sense of Sulawesi culture and surroundings, while providing a unique framework for stage action that fit well with the impulse for continual experimentation. Uki Bayu Sedjati, an observer of Indonesian theatre, in discussing the high quality of the performance, particularly recalled the beauty of the masts and sails in the background. (46) The group's desperation to leave their homes and strike out across the ocean in search of a better life also resonated with a Bugis-Makassarese sailors' proverb quoted by Aspar in his paper presented to the 1985 National Theatre Festival at which Perahu Nuh II was performed: 'I would choose to sink to the bottom of the ocean rather than be washed back to shore on the ebb tide' (Kupilih tenggelarn daripada kembali surut ke pantai). (47) This play with very general human themes therefore nonetheless manages to retain a sense of the local through its set and the fact that its central idea is derived from South Sulawesi culture.

Regional partners, local influences, and the second wave of neo-traditionalism

The impact of the 1976 national festival on Teater Makassar's practice as exemplified in I Tolok or Perahu Nuh II begs the question of the nature of the relationship of regional theatre groups to those operating in the centre--Jakarta and Java. In viewing the changes effected from Pernbenci Matahari in 1971 to Opa in 1976 to I Tolok in 1978 and Perahu Nuh II (1983/1985), it appears as though Makassar theatre workers were merely following national trends. And indeed, Jakarta/Java theatre workers quite strongly influenced their Makassar counterparts. In the course of the 'traditional theatre'/'warna lokal' (local colour) debates, judging by their comments and by changes in the style of the works they brought to succeeding national festivals, the Makassar theatre workers appear to have felt considerable critical pressure from Jakarta-centred commentators. A similar phenomenon is implied in Arge's 1976 Festival paper by his frequent references to the ideas and practices of contemporary theatre workers and theoreticians from the 'centre' such as Goenawan Mohamad, Mh. Rustandi Kartakusuma, Arifin C. Noer, Putu Wijaya, and Wahyu Sihombing. It is as though for Arge, these Jakarta and Java-based figures had become the main sources of authority in theatrical matters. A number of Makassar theatre workers claimed that Makassar theatre had often looked to Jakarta for authority and standards. (48) Where they differ is over the question of when this trend began to change, if indeed it has. Fahmi Syariff contends that this pattern began in the early years of the New Order when Java/Jakarta-based figures such as Rendra were appearing frequently in the media and becoming well known. As a result, according to Syariff, Makassar theatre workers of the time were a bit in awe of such practitioners. (49)

However, while they have and still do in part follow new concepts pioneered at the centre, I am going to argue that Makassar theatre workers' relationship to Jakartan theatre currents is much more complicated. This can be seen more clearly if we examine the development of the 'absurdist' trend within national theatre. Beginning with Rendra's 1970 production Menunggu Godot (Waiting for Godot), experiments with an 'absurdist' style theatre are normally traced through the efforts of Arifin C. Noer and Putu Wijaya in Jakarta during the first half of the 1970s. Yet Makassar theatre workers were also involved in the development of this and other more abstract, conceptual forms. Early Makassar efforts in the direction of a less 'realist', more symbolic/conceptual form of theatre were Aspar's LakekomaE (1972, with Arifin C. Noer in the cast) and Husni Jamaludin's Di Pintu Alternatif ('The alternative door', directed by Arge, performed by Teater Makassar also in 1972), (50) both produced at roughly the same time that Arifin and Rendra were developing the 'absurdist' style in the capital. Furthermore, the participation of Noer in LakekomaE, as well as the later association of Jakarta-based writer-actor Ikranegara with Makassar national theatre workers, (51) suggests that Makassar theatre workers were not simply copying national trends, but were participating in the construction of some of those trends through close communication and collaboration with leading figures from Jakarta/Java. This is also clear in Rachman Arge's mention of his friendly discussions on theatre with some of the leading figures of Jakartan theatre at the 1971 National Theatre Festival. Thus, Makassar theatre workers can be seen as partners, though possibly junior partners, in the construction of major trends in national artistic theatre.

Specific infrastructure, events, audiences and social conditions in South Sulawesi itself have also influenced the development of Makassar theatre in ways that have little to do in a direct fashion with national theatre discussions. For example, working with local authorities, Makassar theatre activists developed mass street performances for national holiday celebrations. (52) More important for discussions of regional theatre/local colour, local historical material and legends, as noted above, appear to have been popular with Makassar audiences from at least the early 1970s, causing some writers and groups to devote more time to this genre beginning in the 1980s in order to build a larger audience, (53) In light of this, the growth of Makassar Indonesian national theatre can also be seen as influenced by the desire of local theatre workers to attract wider audiences, as well as by the tastes of the local audiences themselves.

In this respect, the early experiments with local cultural elements and stories begun by Makassar pioneers such as Rachman Arge (I Tolok, 1978) and Aspar Paturusi (Samindara, 1981) may be regarded as laying the groundwork for the intensive reworking of local stories by playwrights such as A.M. Mochtar, Yudhistira Sukatanya, and Fahmi Syariff during the 1980s and early 1990s. For such reworkings, the authors often delved deeply into local history and legends, uncovering a wealth of stories and lore about Bugis and Makassarese cultures. A related development during this same period was the work of Jamaluddin Latief and Meggy Waworuntu, who sought to revive a Bugis/Makassarese folk theatre form, kondo buleng, by writing and performing several modern scripts in kondo buleng style. (54)

This second phase of the construction of a specifically South Sulawesian theatrical identity--embodied in traditional costumes and traditional or quasi-historical local stories performed more realistically than the experimental work of Arge and Aspar, and in attempts to revive and modernise a traditional theatrical form--was also marked by a passing of the torch of leadership within the Makassar theatre community. Following the much lauded 1985 National Theatre Festival performance of Aspar's Perahu Nuh II, which mobilised local colour traditions in the service of a modern, 'universalist' social allegory, Fahmi Syariff and Jacob Marala eventually replaced Aspar as de facto leaders of Tearer Makassar. In 1986, Yudhistira Sukatanya, a younger generation playwright, was invited to Jakarta, along with a group representing South Sulawesi whose members were mainly from Yudhistira's own home group, Sanggar Merah Putih Makassar, to participate in a National Theatre Week event organised by the Department of Education and Culture. (55) While there, the group performed Yudhistira's historical drama, To'do'puli (Here I make my stand), which takes as its focus South Sulawesian assistance to the kingdom of Banten in its struggle against the Dutch.

In 1993, the Syariff and Marala-led Teater Makassar took one of Syariffs quasi-' historical legend' plays, Karaeng Pattingalloang to the Twelfth National Theatre Festival in Solo, Central Java. (56) It is possible that the shift to historical dramas and theatre based on local legends was in part precipitated by the move of the Makassar Arts Council from its headquarters in a former cinema building in the central shopping district to the former Dutch colonial Gedung Societet de Harmonie on Jalan Riburane near Losari Beach and Fort Rotterdam. According to Syariff, the community surrounding the old shopping district cinema location had been more diverse, and the audience for theatre larger. With the move to the Gedung Societet, audiences tended to be smaller and drawn primarily from the theatre community itself. (57) Since local histories and legends were perceived to be more popular with Makassar audiences, it seems logical that playwrights and directors would be attracted to such material in an attempt to regain lost audiences. This trend was also given further momentum in the 1990s with the government support of a series of festivals designed to showcase the traditional music, dance, and ritual cultures of South Sulawesi, the Pekan Budaya (culture week) festivals described by Sutton. In particular in 1991 a large-scale drama, Somba Opu, a play by the then elder statesman of the art theatre world of Makassar, Rachman Arge, crowned the final evening of the Pekan Budaya. Similarly, extracts from Yudhistira Sukatanya's dance drama, Pakbundukanga ri Mangkasara (The Makassar War) constituted the offerings on the final nights of the 1992, 1993, and 1995 festivals, (58)

Brief summaries of two of these plays should give a sense of the ways in which Makassar-based playwrights were imagining their region in history and in relation to the nation and the project of a national artistic theatre. Yudhistira Sukatanya's To'do'pull is a highly patriotic nationalist play that takes as its material the fall of the independent kingdom of Banten into the hands of native allies of the Dutch East Indies Company in the 1680s. (59) The plot itself revolves around the very personal story of a local aristocrat, Rambang, who sides with the Dutch allies against Banten's current ruler, Sultan Ageng, and who at the same time attempts to force his amorous desires on a local girl, Kumala. Rambang is represented as arrogant, full of a sense of his father's rising power, lecherous, and heedless of the consequences for the young women whom he has seduced or coerced into sexual liaisons. Kumala is saved from Rambang's threatening advances through the timely assistance of Makassar sailors whose ship is anchored nearby. These Makassar sailors have come to Banten both to aid Sultan Ageng and to seek a place of refuge, since the Makassar fleet has been defeated by the Dutch navy in an engagement off Buton. The play shows the pro-Dutch locals, in the person of Rambang and his henchmen, to be truly bad in their arrogance, disrespect for others, bullying, cowardliness, drinking, and callousness towards women as mere objects of sexual gratification. Kumala on the other hand, is 'patriotic' and argues with Rambang, then her father, declaring that siding with the Dutch is a betrayal of the rightful government of Sultan Ageng, who is converted into an anachronistic symbol of Indonesia as a whole:
   The struggle to defend one's life without sacrificing others or
   justifying absolutely any method. Even more so without selling
   one's people and country to a foreign people. Remember, those Dutch
   have come with only one intention in mind, to control trade, the
   economy, and then the government ... Those who love their people's
   independence certainly wouldn't be willing to bow to the wishes of
   a foreign people ... Father, we must
   drive out those colonisers ... Father, we mustn't sell even one
   inch of our homeland to a foreign people. We can learn from history
   how dangerous that is. We cannot help those colonisers. (60)


Kumala finds much more in common with one Makassar sailor, Mangara, with whom she discusses the idea that freedom begins in the heart of each individual. Eventually, when Rambang tries to apprehend Mangara as a 'rebel', Mangara's fellow sailors condemn Rambang to be remembered by history as a traitor to his people and stab him just as the Dutch begin their final assault on Sultan Ageng's forces. The Makassar sailors realise they must flee on their ships, but Mangara decides to make a stand in Banten defending Kumala, whom he loves, and her father. This is his to'do'puli--the point at which one stands one's ground and fights to the death.

Yudhistira's play projects colonial and anti-colonial discourses back into the seventeenth century and in so doing, suggests his stand, and, that of his fellow South Sulawesian theatre workers, on the side of the modern nation and its valorisation of the independence struggle which made it possible. The Makassar sailor and the woman from Banten are united here against the Dutch and those who assist them, figuring an Indonesian people united across islands and ethnicities (as in Kumala's list of places where the colonised rebel against the Dutch--including Makassar, Halmahera, and Aceh). Yet Yudhistira also contrives to have markers of a distinctive South Sulawesi identity manifested in the play through the use of songs in Makassarese, the angngaru oath which ends the play, and the occasional use of local instruments.

Fahmi Syariff's 1992 play, Karaeng Pattingaloang, (61) makes similar use of emblems of local identity, beginning with an oral storyteller (pasinrili') who introduces the play in Makassarese, accompanying himself on the local stringed instrument, the keso-keso (kesok-kesok). Local drums are also used in the musical accompaniment, and the pasinrili' appears from time to time throughout, providing commentary both in Indonesian and Makassarese. Furthermore, to a greater extent than most of the other playwrights discussed, Syariffs play highlights the devout Islam for which the Bugis and Makassarese of South Sulawesi are renowned, setting the play on the eve of Eid, the holiday at the end of Ramadhan. Finally, one of the play's climactic moments offers a proposed angngaru (anggaru in Syariffs play) oath which is part of an elaborate plot to win Karaeng Pattingaloang's assent to a corruption scheme engineered by the crafty noble politician, Daeng Materru.

Karaeng Pattingaloang is a fairly simple story (62) of a plot by a noble politician, Daeng Materru, the 'finance minister' (bendahara) of the joint kingdom of Gowa-Tallo, to influence the kingdom's prime minister (and king of Tallo), Karaeng Pattingaloang, so that he will not block a plan to demolish several neighbourhoods to make way for a huge field in which horse races and deer-hunting exhibitions can be staged. Parallel to this, Daeng Materru's wife is also hoping to create a monopoly on Islamic prayer mats, the proceeds of which will go to the coffers of an organisation she heads, thus allowing ample opportunity for skimming some of the profits. In the end the plot is uncovered and Daeng Materrru humiliated and punished. Karaeng Pattingaloang's plot thus signals clearly both its relation to universal themes as well as its connection to the contemporary New Order Indonesian context by its adoption of the story of a noble leader opposed to a political conspiracy of powerful plotters, entwined with the central idea of corruption. Syariff's allegory of contemporary Indonesia seems obvious, but if that were not enough, the play is full of anachronisms such as New Order Indonesian terms like pejabat struktural (structural official, someone officially on the payroll) and pejabat fungsional (functional official or working official), penataran (upgrading, especially ideological training), pirnpinan proyek (project leader), persatuan dan kesatuan (unity and community), and falsafah nenekmoyang (ancestral/traditional philosophy). It also contains a number of English phrases such as 'real estate', 'on time', and 'Oh my God!' (63) In contrast to the reality of the time in which it was written, however, Karaeng Pattingaloang also conveys a utopian desire to see the corruption quashed and its perpetrators punished, as demonstrated in Karaeng Pattingaloang's uncovering and exposing of Daeng Materru's plot. One of the most striking elements of the story is the strong projection of Islam as both a firm basis for local culture, and an ideological cover that Daeng Materru has offensively attempted to use to further his corrupt goals, which may have resonated with the growing cultural and political strength of Indonesian Islam and the founding of the government-sponsored Islamic intellectuals' organisation, Ikatan Cendiakawan Muslim Indonesia (ICMI) in the early 1990s.

Changing dynamics in the 1990s and beyond

The dynamics of the relationship between Makassar theatre workers and their Jakartan and Javanese counterparts began to change in the 1990s. Once again, developments in national culture played an important part, yet Makassar theatre workers were also claiming a more assertive role in such events. First, debates about postmodernism and decentring Indonesia's cultural 'master narratives' had occurred in Jakarta and elsewhere in the early 1990s. (64) At roughly the same time, a new movement calling itself Revitalisasi Sastra Pedalarnan (Revitalisation of the literature of the interior) formed in order to contest domination of the arts from the centre, and to give regional writers a platform for communicating with one another. (65) Also during the same period, Solo and other cities became increasingly prominent in mounting national-scale performing arts festivals featuring avant-garde and other theatre works, shifting some of the focus away from Jakarta. Makassar groups were among those invited to attend several festivals in Solo. Many in the regions were also becoming increasingly resentful of the centralised system of governance and economic management which was perceived to increase Jakarta's (and Java's) wealth at the expense of the regions. Such dissatisfaction forced the government to once again discuss the possibility of decentralisation in the early 1990s. (66)

Given the opposition by many regional cultural workers in the mid-1980s and the early 1990s to centralised, Jakartan domination of national theatre, the Dewan Kesenian Jakarta (Jakarta Arts Council) decided on at least two occasions to hold national theatre festivals in regional cities including the tenth (1986), held in Padang, West Sumatra, and the twelfth (1993), held in Surakarta, Central Java. (The 1996 National Theatre Festival sponsored by the Director General of Culture and held in Bandung, West Java, was another indication of this shift). The twelfth festival (1993) was originally scheduled to be held in Makassar/Ujung Pandang, but Jakarta-based set-designer Roedjito, after touring possible stages in Makassar, declared that none were fitting venues, much to the chagrin of local theatre workers who requested that the provincial governor construct an arts centre for the city of Makassar. (67) Given that the Jakarta Arts Council exercised control over the choice of venue, later advocates of more regional equality/recognition in the arts decided to organise their own national/international events whether central financial support was forthcoming or not. Along with growing demands for regional economic and political autonomy, there were several indications that Makassar arts workers were beginning to see their ties to Jakarta and Javanese theatre in a different light. Syariff describes, though he does not date precisely, a vein of criticism among some Makassar theatre workers (possibly around 1993) which held that 'those [performances] in Jakarta or other Javanese cities are not always of a high quality. Don't make Jakarta or the others the orientation. Theatre ought not to use the system of political centralisation, and so on'. (68) Similarly, in 1999, the South Sulawesi Arts Council (Dewan Kesenian Sulawesi Selatan) organised a literary arts festival called 'Sastra Kepulauan' (Archipelagic literature). The published volume of poems and short stories resulting from the festival, Sastra Kepulauan: Antologi, as well as, most likely, the festival itself, were intended, according to the chair of the South Sulawesi Arts Council, H. Udhin Palisuri, 'to support the efforts to make productive the thought that Indonesian literature also exists spread throughout the archipelago. Hopefully, it will become one peak of local literature, with a national orientation.' (69)

Here we see an attempt to claim membership in a national community, that of Indonesian national literature, while at the same time asserting that such literature exists throughout the archipelago and by implication, not just on Java or in Jakarta. In fact, Palisuri, in his introduction to Sastra kepulauan claims that perhaps local South Sulawesi literature, with its roots in local oral poetic forms such as sinriliq, passure, or pakkacapi and infused with the beauty of local traditions and the teachings of the ancestors, may well become one driving spirit of archipelagic literature. Palisuri's introduction returns to a sense of regional pride (via the local colour/tradition discourse of the 1975-85 period) once found in the statements about the 1955 local theatre festival. It asserts that South Sulawesi can contribute to national culture, a claim Rachman Arge had more difficulty formulating (though he eventually did) at the 1976 National Theatre Festival. (70) Still, the statement only situates South Sulawesi literature as one single possible spirit of sastra kepulauan, thus hinting at a pluralistic, egalitarian ideal behind the new regionalism of Indonesian theatre and literature, something meant to address the former situation in which a concentration of cultural capital authority was seen to rest with Jakarta and Javanese practitioners and institutions. As such, this literary/theatrical/cultural movement offers something of a parallel comparison to pressures from various regions for more political and economic autonomy.

This desire from the artistic sphere was also very much in evidence in the rationale for the event I used as the starting point for this analysis, the Makassar Arts Forum of September 1999, when theatre, dance, and music groups, as well as visual artists from across Indonesia and beyond gathered for a national/international-scale arts festival in South Sulawesi's capital. In part generated by growing collaboration between a number of Makassar-based non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and theatre groups in the late 1990s, and partially supported by the tourism industry, the Forum was seen by several of its organisers and commentators as one attempt to 'decentralise' arts activities within Indonesia, (71) while one observer saw it as changing the image of 'arrogance' within the formerly centralised arts system (in Jakarta, Jogjakarta, Surabaya). (72) One of the leading members of the generation of theatre workers who rose to prominence in the mid-1990s, Asia Ramli Prapanca, maintains that younger groups are less likely to look to Jakarta for authority and standards, especially since Makassar cultural workers have in the past decade successfully mounted several national-scale events such as the two 'Archipelagic literature' meetings (1999, 2000), the Makassar Dance Festival (1998), and the Makassar Arts Forum (1999).

Nonetheless, this shift to a more assertive emphasis on regional initiatives and equality with the centre has not been accompanied by a complete embrace of the specifically regional and traditional on the part of the newest Makassar theatre groups, though one of the most outstanding of the new groups appears at first glance to have done just that. The dialogue of Makassar theatre workers with national cultural trends continues. The theatrical avant-garde in Jakarta and on Java had begun to move away from obvious physical displays of local identity in performance since the mid-1980s, preferring instead a more fragmented, symbolic, lyrical postmodern style that eschewed linear narratives, normative language, and traditional characterisation. This avant-garde, fusing theatre with art installation and performance art, chose to base its performances on elements immediately available in the actors' personal lives and surroundings, rather than deal in grand narratives and fictions that did not necessarily speak to the actors or their most intensely experienced realities.

Makassar younger generation groups such as Asia Ramli Prapanca's Teater Kita Makassar and the Arman Dewarti-led Sanggar Merah Putih Makassar had also begun experimenting with this style, sometimes again in collaboration with Jakarta-based practitioners. In so doing, they appeared to be once more simply going along with trends pioneered in the 'centre', an accusation directed at them by 'historical legend' playwrights and directors of the previous generation such as Fahmi Syariff and Jacob Marala. (73) Yet a closer look reveals that despite the apparent lack of traditional stories, clothes, and sometimes, obvious traditional performance elements, these groups often show a deep commitment to local cultural identity. For instance, the performances of Prapanca's Teater Kita Makassar have on several occasions taken the shape of modernised rituals drawn from Bugis or Makassarese culture. (74) A prime example would be the Songkabala penghuni pulau (Island inhabitants warding off disaster) performance held in conjunction with the Earth Day events of April 1998 which was undertaken in collaboration with local NGOs and which Teater Kita's proposal described as a 'ritual teater' (teater upacara) incorporating various traditional elements. Another instance of such 'ritual theatre' can be found in Teater Kita's 1999 production, Inang Sarnudera 999, HU'--Untukmu ('Mother Ocean 999, HU'--for you) in which offerings were made ritually to the sea. Further, during one period in Teater Kita's evolution, Prapanca held practices and exploratory sessions within the Benteng Somba Opu district, once the site of a Makassarese fortress reduced to ruins in a bloody canon assault by Dutch ships. At Somba Opu, Prapanca claims his group found the spirit of to'do'puli and often went to the edge of trance while practising. Prapanca drew many innovative staging ideas from such practices, as well as from local rituals, artefacts, and activities of daily life (e.g. fishermen casting their nets upon the river). Prapanca has even drawn upon local ethnic cultures such as the Makassarese pakarena dance, though often these elements are transformed in surprising ways in keeping with Teater Kita's experimental style. Another avant-garde performance artist, Firman Jamil, often uses philosophical ideas drawn from the traditional Bugis literary epic, La Galigo, as the basic concepts around which his experimental installations and happenings take shape. Such underlying concepts may or may not be immediately obvious to the audience, depending on their knowledge of Jamil and local traditions, and the highly symbolic manner in which Jamil represents such traditional concepts. Similarly, Sanggar Merah Putih's highly abstract Kausal Tanah Batu (Causes of the stony earth, 2000-1) performance, nonetheless took as its point of departure a historical slave war between the Bugis and Torajans.

Thus, Makassar theatre workers and performance artists are indeed deepening a sense of local identity within their national theatre projects. This is entirely in keeping with the 1990s avant-garde preoccupation with troupe members' immediate surroundings. What seems to present a problem for older generation Makassar theatre workers is the form in which such traditional elements are cast--experimentally, often through abstract symbols and reformulations of those traditions that change their appearance beyond what is normally recognisable. Prapanca argues that older uses of tradition are 'museum-like' and do not 'dialogue' with and transform tradition to meet contemporary needs. Yet he steadfastly maintains that such traditions are a necessary starting point for local Makassar theatre workers to whom more modern theatrical concepts may be alienating at first acquaintance. (75) Here we can still recognise that the 'universalist' notion of art as continual transformation and experimentation is still strongly present, at the same moment that local culture is regarded as the base or set of roots necessary for modern creativity to occur at all.

Yet if Teater Kita Makassar or Sanggar Merah Putih represent the new wave avant-garde style theatre, a third group, Teater Petta Puang, has taken a different, more populist and popular route to creating modern theatre. Its local point of departure is the traditional form kondo buleng. (76) Through building upon this form and fashioning an archetypal central character from observations of the behaviour of older generation Bugis aristocrats (and those who aspire to such status), Petta Puang has created a humourous, socially critical theatre whose ties to tradition are immediately obvious in the group's comedic improvisation, adoption of traditional clothing and use of traditional instruments such as the kaccapi for musical accompaniment. Yet there is also a difference here--Petta Puang's performances self-consciously break the barrier between performers and audience, often humourously mentioning or joking with audience members in the midst of a performance. A new, modern self-reflexivity has entered the reworked 'traditional' style popular theatre. Further, Petta Puang's representation of its chief character, 'Petta Puang', the archetypal Bugis aristocratic figure, is a well-rounded modern psychological character in his own right who can either be the hero or the heel of a particular piece, depending on the story and message the group wants to convey. Even their musical accompaniment is a mix of traditional and more modern instruments such as drums, trumpets, and at times the tanjidor instruments so popular in Jakarta's kampung (urban neighborhoods).

To further underscore this group's position in national theatre, Petta Puang performances are staged in the national language, Bahasa Indonesia, with Bugis only being used for key appropriate phrases in certain situations. Bahar Merdu, one of the moving forces behind the group, compares Petta Puang's style to that of an older Javanese group, Gandrik, clearly marking his association of Petta Puang with a specific, strongly ethnically-coloured current of what is, nonetheless, modern national theatre. An additional indication of this ongoing tie to the national is an anecdote Bahar related to me in 2001. He greatly enjoyed telling me a story about how the group made a success of a performance in Jakarta for Megawati Sukarnoputri, who at the time of my visit had just become the nation's fourth president. (77)

In more recent years (2004-11), this trend of expressing pride in local, South Sulawesian culture, was strongly confirmed and given a kind of national and international recognition by the Robert Wilson production, 1 La Galigo, based on the Bugis epic narrative. Performed around the world as well as in Jakarta and, in April 2011, in Makassar itself, the cast included many local theatre workers and musicians, among them members of Makassar avant-garde groups such as Sanggar Merah Putih and Tearer Kita Makassar.

At the same time, the most prominent national art theatre groups of the first decade of the twenty-first century, Sanggar Merah Putih Makassar, Petta Puang, and a newcomer, Teater Kala, while in part illustrating a paradigm shift (once more parallelling trends in Jakarta and Java) (78) back to a more realist, dialogue-based theatre, continue to express local identity, though at times in a more muted form. Petta Puang continues to frame its performances with a kondo buleng style backed by tanjidor music, and to centre its productions around the figure of the traditional Bugis aristocrat character whose name is also the name of the group. However, the group's leader, Bahar Merdu, stressed that the group needed to explore new possibilities and sought to incorporate new members. Especially indicative of the new trend towards realism, Merdu asserted that he was writing several new story ideas and that Petta Puang had also changed to give more emphasis to improving actors' skills, including being able to make their performance of their characters more detailed and complex. (79) Similarly, much of the work of Sanggar Merah Putih Makassar under the direction of Djamal Dilaga, particularly after 2001, though still showing an inclination to express local identity through the use of music, props, sets, and traces of local language, was also turning towards more 'realist' and dialogue-based texts. The Dilaga-led Sanggar Merah Putih has frequently adapted these realist or magical realist texts from both international (Moliere, Taufik al-Hakim) and Indonesian (N. Riantiarno, Putu Wijaya, Arifin C. Noer, Saini K.M., Bahar Merdu) sources, including works by Dilaga himself, to take up a variety of social issues (women's rights, loss of cultural and moral values in consumer society, human rights). (80)

Teater Kala, led by former Sanggar Merah Putih Makassar actress Shinta Febriani, seems the least 'realist' of the contemporary groups, and also, at first glance, the least inclined to integrate elements of local, traditional culture into its work. In a series of three striking pieces performed between 2003-06, Teater Kala meditated on and interrogated gender stereotypes using a style that combined the non-linear, physically expressive features so prominent in the previous decade with a Brechtian desire to confront the audience's expectations in order to prompt distanced critical reflection. Formed through an extended period of rehearsal in which actors drew on their own personal experiences with gender roles and stereotypes to improvise movements, sounds, and words, the first of these, namaku adam Tanpa HurufKapital (my name is adam with No Capital Letters, 2003) displayed almost no elements of traditional local culture. Shinta's objective was to allow actors the chance to find themselves and express things they had never said to anyone. (81) These emphases on the individual, as well as on gender roles, hinted at yet other possible positions for expressing and defining identity not yet entirely encompassed by the opposition/merging between the 'local' and the 'national' or the 'traditional' and the 'modern'. Following a suggestion by Arman Dewarti that local identity was still important, (82) the next piece, Haws dari bawah tanah (Eve from underground, 2004) included dancers whose costumes in part referred to traditional Makassarese dance, while elements of ritual featured in the beginning of the third piece. (83) More recently, Teater Kala has sponsored a workshop in the pakarena, once more showing the group's continuing, if less pronounced, dialogue with local traditions. Furthermore, Teater Kala has also reflected the turn towards more realist and text-based performance in its mounting of a series of annual monologue festivals beginning in April 2009. (84)

Thus, over and through several changes in the dominant styles and forms of the national art theatre, most contemporary Makassar theatre had by the first decade of the twenty-first century become at once more local--through underlying performance concepts, incorporation of local cultural forms, and focus on the performers' immediate experiences and surroundings (leading at times to a focus on more individualised expression, as in the case of Teater Kala), but also more national, through language, through ties to both Java-based and the international avant-garde as well as populist, locally inflected national styles. The nation was still viewed as the window on modernity and on the international arts community, but a greater, deeper appreciation of local roots, along with a creative and selective appropriation of local tradition, had also been affected through experiments with traditional forms, as well as, perhaps, by the turn away from grand narratives and back to the local, the immediate. Some of this was prompted by resentment at the New Order's centralised control, a model which also carried over into the arts world. But the resulting rebellion was not one of demanding separation, only recognition of South Sulawesi as an equally fertile arena in which national culture, with a local perspective, could be produced.

doi: 10.1017/S0022463412000604

(1) For more on this history, see Barbara S. Harvey, 'South Sulawesi: Puppets and patriots', in Regional dynamics of the Indonesian revolution: Unity from diversity, ed. Audrey R. Kahin (Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1985), pp. 207-35; and B.J. Boland, The struggle of Islam in modern Indonesia (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1971), pp. 54-75.

(2) Fahmi Syariff, 'Ekologi teater di Sulawesi Selatan' [The theatre ecology of South Sulawesi], in Perkembangan kesenian di Sulawesi Selatan [The development of the arts in South Sulawesi], ed. Ridwan Effendy and Abdul Rojak (Ujung Pandang: Intisari and Dewan Kesenian Sulawesi Selatan, 1999), p. 31.

(3) Rachman Arge, 'Pak Direktur' (manuscript, 1963), p. 15. The Indonesian reads: 'Kini aku bentji Bapa seperti aku bentji pendjadjahan, seperti aku bentji golongan Bapa jang rnenjelewengkan arti revolusi, jang rnenjelewengkan arti sedjarah, jang rnenyelewengkan arti rakjat!'

(4) Ibid, p. 1. 'Kita sama tjinta revolusi, karenanja kita sama tjinta aparatpengendalinja. Tapi kenjataan bahwa revolusi rnahsutji ini banjak-banjak disalahgunakan aparat-aparat ini, kita lantas lantjarkan kritik. Bukan lantaran bentji, tapi peletakan kernbali rnentalitas dan personalitas pada tempat sebenarnja, pada kesadaran revolusi itu sendiri, pada keutuhan potensi nasional jang dilandasi tjinta. Untuk semua itulah tjerita ini dibikin.'

(5) Nasakom was an acronym for Nationalism, Agama (Religion) and Communism. This was President Sukarno's formulation, an attempt to weld together what he saw to be the three major currents of Indonesian society and politics of the time. Cultural organisations such as the nationalist party-aligned LKN (Lembaga Kesenian Nasional or National Arts Institute), the PKI (Indonesian Communist Party)-aligned Lekra, and the traditionalist Muslim party (Nahdlatul Ulama)-aligned Lesbumi were theoretically supposed to work together for the good of the nation.

(6) According to the PKI-affiliated daily Harian Rakjat only a handful of the attendees, including Aspar Paturusi, a key figure in Makassar theatre in the 1970s and 1980s, were willing to sign a letter supporting the Manifesto. Members of the local branches of several national organisations, Lekra (Lembaga Kebudajaan Rakjat, Institute of People's Culture), Lesbi (Lembaga Seni Budaia Indonesia, the Indonesian Institute of Art and Culture and aligned with the leftist party, Partindo) and Lesbumi (Lembaga Seni Budaja Muslim Indonesia, Indonesian Muslim Institute of Art and Culture) refused to sign ('"Manifes kebudajaan" diganjang di Makassar: Kaum "Manifes" mau revisi Manipol' [The 'Cultural Manifesto' is crushed in Makassar: 'Manifesto' supporters want to revise Manipol], Harian Rakjat [People's Daily], 26 Jan. 1964, p. 2).

However, a rather different account appears in Aspar Paturusi's 1976 novel Arus (The Current). Here, two characters discuss the cultural tensions and events of the mid-1960s and one argues that Arge and others did sign statements of support for the Manifesto and that in February 1964, Arge attended the KKPs-I (Konperensi Karyawan Pengarang seluruh-Indonesia, The All-Indonesia Writing Employees' Conference), which was organised by Manifesto supporters and others with military backing. Subsequently, he agreed to become head of the local Lesbumi branch. Further, Arge is reported as having agreed to help Lesbumi mount a play, Tanah dan hati manusia (Land and the human heart) at the National Farmers' meeting in August 1965 to upstage a Lekra production also scheduled for the same occasion. Aspar Paturusi, Arus (Ujung Pandang: Bhakti Baru, 1976, pp. 133-5). These two accounts suggest a complicated, fluid pattern of relations between many theatre workers and the cultural organisations then disputing the terrain of national cultural production, one in which statements of solidarity and actual alignments were subject to rapid change.

(7) HSBI was the Himpunan Seni Budaya Islam (Association of Islamic Art and Culture), ISBM was the Ikatan Seni Budaya Muhammadiyah (Muhammadiyah Network for Art and Culture), and Laksmi was the Lembaga Seniman Muslim Indonesia (Institute of Indonesian Muslim Artists--aligned with the Partai Sarekat Islam Indonesia).

(8) Syariff, 'Ekologi teater', pp. 36-7.

(9) Their levels of activity are still not clear, however. Aside from Arge's play and his later connection to the Lesbumi productions mentioned above, Lekra's Makassar branch was reported to have performed at least three plays in the early 1960s: Bachtiar Siagian's Buih dan kasih (Foam and love) ('Kegiatan: Lekra Makassar' [Activities: Lekra Makassar], Zaman Baru [New Age], 30 May 1960, pp. 7-8); Siagian's Sangkar madu (Gilded cage) for a May Day 1962 celebration, Utuy Tatang Sontani's Sajang ada orang lain (A pity there's someone else) and a number of other plays (see Lekra's own regional report, 'Laporan Sulselra' [Report from South and Southeast Sulawesi], 10 Mar. 1962, Harian Rakjat, p. 3).

(10) R. Anderson Sutton, Calling back the spirit: Music, dance, and cultural politics in lowland South Sulawesi (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), ch. 3, esp. pp. 59-60.

(11) Syariff, 'Ekologi tearer', pp. 42-7, 65-6, 79-85.

(12) Herbert Feith, The decline of constitutional democracy in Indonesia (Ithaca, NY.: Cornell University Press, 1962), pp. 100-3, 109-14.

(13) A. Teeuw, 'Javanistic tendencies in recent Indonesian literature', Tenggara: Journal of Southeast Asian Literature, 21-22 (1988): 8.

(14) Harvey, 'South Sulawesi', p. 209.

(15) See Ester Velthoen, 'Hutan and kota: Contested visions of the nation-state in Southern Sulawesi in the 1950s', in Indonesia in transition: Rethinking 'civil society', 'region', and 'crisis', ed. Hanneman Samuel and Henk Schulte Nordholt (Yogyakarta: Pustaka Pelajar, 2004), pp. 154-5.

(16) Sutton, Calling back the spirit, pp. 50-64.

(17) To get some sense of these intellectuals' feeling of belonging to an international literary and arts community, read Beb Vuyk, 'A weekend with Richard Wright', trans. Keith Foulcher; ed. and with an introduction by Brian Russell Roberts and Keith Foulcher, PMLA, 126, 3 (May 2011): 798-812.

(18) Keith Foulcher, 'Literature, cultural politics, and the Indonesian revolution', in Text/Politics in island Southeast Asia: Essays in interpretation, ed. D.M. Roskies (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press Monographs in International Studies, No. 91, 1993), pp. 236-47.

(19) Paturusi, Arus, pp. 73, 153-4.

(20) Raymond Williams, The politics of modernism: Against the new conformists (London: Verso, 1989).

(21) See Syariff, 'Ekologi teater', pp. 44-5, 65.

(22) See W.S. Rendra, Mempertimbangkan tradisi [Considering tradition] (Jakarta: Gramedia, 1983).

(23) A. Teeuw makes a similar argument about the early poetry of Rendra and Ajip Rosidi. See A. Teeuw, Modern Indonesian literature, vol. 11 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff and KITLV, 1979), pp. 5-10.

(24) For evidence of this, see Wing Kardjo, 'Potret W.S. Rendra dalam wawantjara' [A portrait of W.S. Rendra in an interview], Budaya Java, 5 (Oct. 1968): 288-92.

(25) Putu Wijaya, Ngeh: Kumpulan esai [Ngeh: A collection of essays] (Jakarta: Pustaka Firdaus, 1997), pp. 343-9.

(26) Goenawan Mohamad, Seks, sastra, kita [Sex, literature, and us] (Jakarta: Sinar Harapan, 1980), pp. 91-142.

(27) Rachman Arge, 'Kenapa kita masih berteater?' [Why are we still doing theatre?], Budaya Jaya, 100 (Sept. 1976): 540-4.

(28) Aspar Paturusi, 'Pergumulan ide dalam konsep teater' [Wrestling with ideas in our theatrical concepts], in Pertemuan Teater 80 [Theatre Summit '80], ed. Wahyu Simhombing, Slamet Sukirnanto, and Ikranegara (Jakarta: Dewan Kesenian Jakarta, 1980), pp. 134-5.

(29) See 'Opa di akhir tahun' [Opa at year's end], Tempo, 7 Feb. 1976, p. 22. Ironically, and indicative of the tensions between the centre and the regions in national culture, and of the predominance of 'universal humanism' in criticism of the arts, the Tempo reviewer for the performances at the National Theatre Festival, despite the Festival's theme, faulted Opa and Teater Makassar not only for being technically less advanced than Jakarta groups, but also for addressing contemporary local (Makassar) problems too much at the expense of more general problems and issues. Tearer Makassar seemed caught in the middle of a crossfire between different expectations about what national theatre should be.

(30) Field notes, 1 and 3 Aug. 2001.

(31) Syariff, 'Ekologi teater', p. 52.

(32) Arge, 'Kenapa kita masih berteater?': 43.

(33) Syariff, 'Ekologi teater', pp. 49-50.

(34) Yudhistira Sukatanya, Profil 5 teater di Makassar: Kandil Teater Latamaosandi, Sanggar Merah Putih Makassar, Rombongon Sandiwara Petta Puang, Kelompok Study Sastra & Teater (Kosaster) Unhas, Teater Kita Makassar (Makassar: Yayasan Kesenian Sulawesi Selatan, 2001), pp. 2-18. This chapter details the history and works of Teater Latamaosandi, and also provides some information on Teater Poseidon. Fahmi Syariff once noted in a conversation (field notes, 3 Aug. 2001) that Latamaosandi had not normally used Local colour elements in these early years.

(35) Aspar Paturusi, 'Tearer Indonesia panggung dialog tradisi dan masa kini?' [Indonesian theatre as the stage for the dialogue of tradition and the present], in Menengok tradisi: Sebuah alternatif bagi teater modern [Looking at tradition: An alternative for modern theatre], ed. Tuti Indra Malaon, Affizal Malna and Bambang Dwi (Jakarta: Dewan Kesenian Jakarta and Lembaga Studi dan Riser Mahabodhi Indonesia, 1986), pp. 67-8.

(36) See Paturusi, 'Pergumulan ide', pp. 136-7, for some of the considerations in staging this scene.

(37) Rachman Arge, 'I Tolok', in Lima naskah drama pilihan [Five selected plays], ed. Ridwan Effendy (Makassar: Dewan Kesenian Sulawesi Selatan dan Lembaga Penerbitan Universitas Hasanuddin), pp. 1-48.

(38) Arge, 'Kenapa kita masih berteater?', p. 538.

(39) Paturusi, 'Pergumulan ide', pp. 130, 134-8.

(40) Paturusi, 'Teater Indonesia panggung dialog', p. 70.

(41) Field notes, 3 Aug. 2001.

(42) Commenting on an early, exceptional Teater Latamaosandi production, using his own script based on the traditional legend Datu Museng dan Maipa Deapati, Fahmi Syariff attributed its spectacular success in Makassar and several other regional cities where it was performed to his reading of the story as the 'Romeo and Juliet' of South Sulawesi as well as to the beautiful Malay used in the script (field notes, 3 Aug. 2001).

(43) Expectations that performances from each region would be heavily coloured by elements of each region's local culture caused the inclusion of such elements to become a virtual necessity at many national-level dance and theatre festivals in the late 1980s and 1990s. Examples of this can be found in the 1996 Festival Tarian Rakyat Nusantara (Festival of Nusantara popular dance) described by Sutton in Calling back the spirit, pp. 232-3, and in the 1996 initiative of the Indonesian Directorate of Arts in the Ministry of Education and Culture to hold a modern theatre festival that would serve as a showcase for modern Indonesian theatre with its roots in local elements. For documentation of this latter event see Sosiawan Leak, 'Eksotisme peta teater Indonesia' (Exoticism of the map of Indonesian theatre), Suara Merdeka, 12 Oct. 1996; and Priyantoro Oemar, 'Teater Indonesia dalam kebingungan seorang Kaspar' (Theatre Indonesia in the confusion of Kaspar), Republika, 12 Oct. 1996.

(44) Aspar Paturusi, 'Perahu Nuh II', manuscript, 1978.

(45) Aspar once told me in a conversation at Taman Ismail Marzuki that he felt Indonesians are too dependent upon looking for a leader to express their aspirations. In the same conversation, he also stressed that ideas could spread like wildfire in a society, and that this notion led to his use of ideas articulated in dialogue initiating sudden rapid changes in plot and direction (field notes, 16 Dec. 1987).

(46) Field notes, 20 Dec. 1987.

(47) Paturusi, 'Teater Indonesia panggung dialog', p. 70.

(48) Field notes, 1, 3 and 6 Aug. 2001.

(49) Field notes, 3 Aug. 2001.

(50) Arge, 'Kenapa kita masih berteater?', p. 542; Paturusi, 'Pergumulan ide', pp. 134-5; Syariff, 'Ekologi teater', p. 53.

(51) Paturusi, 'Pergumulan ide', p. 138; Paturusi, 'Tearer Indonesia panggung dialog', pp. 68-9; Syariff, 'Ekologi teater', p. 64.

(52) Syariff, 'Ekologi teater', pp. 46-7; Arge, 'Kenapa kita masih berteater?', p. 543.

(53) Arge, 'Kenapa kita masih berteater?', p. 543; Yudhistira Sukatanya, field notes, 13 Feb. 1988.

(54) See Kibar, 8 Aug. 1986, p. 21. There seems to be little scholarship readily available to researchers outside South Sulawesi on kondo buleng. Claire Holt, in Dance quest in Celebes (Les Archives Internationales de la Danse: Paris, 1939, pp. 20-1), documents one performance viewed during her voyage through the Netherlands East Indies in 1938. She describes the action as that of a dance in which one performer, dressed as a white heron and mimicking the movements of such a bird, is stalked and eventually shot by a comical, limping hunter figure. The heron, however, seems to rise again at play's end, signalling a sort of rebirth. Holt summarises the production in the following way:
   The dramatic events of the Kondo Buleng pantomime were presented on
   the whole in a rather comical manner. The shooting scene and the
   consequent actions of the Hunter were burlesque. But somehow, the
   end, with the hovering ghost-like figure gliding off into the
   unknown, added to what might have been a simple little comedy a
   strangely impressive note, reverberating, perhaps, with a
   reminiscence of an ancient myth.


Friends from the theatre community in Makassar have claimed the play was originally a veiled burlesque of the antagonism between Dutch colonisers and locals (field notes, 1 Aug. 2001). A video of a kondo buleng performance in a more recent cultural festival generously provided by Ibu Nurhayati Rahman shows the same sort of pantomime as described by Holt, with a number of comical scenes that reflect a loosely structured, partially improvised kind of folk drama. Thus, the kondo buleng 'style' referred to above would seem to consist of an imaginative allegory fleshed out in a loose, comical plot. Jamaluddin Latiefs Drama kondobuleng dalam cerita: Mimpi [Kondobuleng drama in a story: The dream] (manuscript, 1986) gives some indication of how this revival tried to modernise the form. A white heron, a kondo buleng, was indeed present in the play and acted as a voice of conscience to a poor fisherman who dreams he is a 'raja' (king) and proceeds to rule the dream kingdom in an authoritarian and arbitrary manner, ordering his palace guards to rob the people, drinking all day, and killing anyone of whom he is suspicious or with whom he is displeased. There is much comedy involved, but also, clear critical allegorical references to the New Order regime's corruption, accumulation by dispossession, mystical beliefs, and violence. The konclo buleng warns the peasant-turned-raja of coming social and environmental disaster, and criticises what she sees as the prevailing rampant materialism.

(55) Sukatanya, Profil 5 teater, pp. 33-4.

(56) Syariff, 'Ekologi teater', p. 66.

(57) Field notes, 3 Aug. 2001.

(58) Sutton, Calling back the spirit, p. 45.

(59) D.G.E. Hall, A history of Southeast Asia (London: Macmillan, 1970), pp. 323-7; Anthony Reid, Southeast Asia in the age of commerce, 1450-1680: Expansion and crisis (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993), pp. 320-2.

(60) Yudhistira Sukatanya, 'To'Do' pulf, in Lima naskah drama pilihan, p. 246. 'Perjuangan mempertahankan hidup tidak dengan mengorbankan orang lain, menghalalkan segala cara. Apalagi menjual bangsa dan Negara kepada bangsa asing, lngat, ayah, Belanda-belanda itu datang dengan satu maksud, menguasai perdagangan, perekonomian kemudian menguasai pemerintahan ... Orang yang cinta kemerdekaan bangsanya tentu tak sudi tunduk pada kehendak bangsa asing ... Ayah, kita harus sejak awal mengusir kaum kolonial itu ... Ayah kita tak boleh menjual tanah air ini sejengkelpun kepada bangsa asing. Kita bisa belajar dari sejarah tentang bahayanya. Kita tidak boleh membantu penjajah itu.'

(61) Fahmi Syariff, 'Karaeng Pattingaloang', in Fahmi Syariff, Teropong dan meriam [Telescopes and Cannons] (Makassar: Hasanuddin University Press, 2005), pp. 1-72.

(62) Fahmi Syariffs play is based on a short story by S. Sinansari Ecip, 'Menghadap [Facing] Karaeng Pattingalloang', in S. Sinansari Ecip, Menghadap Karaeng Pattingalloang (Ujung Pandang: P.T. Berita Utama, 1983), pp. 38-49.

(63) Syariff, 'Karaeng Pattingaloang', pp. 7, 31, 52, 58, 70.

(64) Michael H. Bodden, 'Satuan-satuan kecil and uncomfortable improvisations in the late night of the New Order: Democratization, postmodernism, and postcoloniality', in Clearing a space: Postcolonial readings of modern Indonesian literature, ed. Keith Foulcher and Tony Day (Leiden: KITLV, 2002), pp. 300-2.

(65) Will Derks, 2002, 'Sastra pedalaman: Local and regional literary centres in Indonesia', in Clearing a space, pp. 325-6.

(66) Anne Booth, 'Will Indonesia break up?', Inside Indonesia, 59 (July-Sept. 1999): 5-6; Trevor Buising, 'A century of decentralization', Inside Indonesia, 63 (July-Sept. 2000), pp. 8-9.

(67) Syariff, 'Ekologi teater', p. 67.

(68) Syariff, 'Ekologi teater', p. 65. 'Tidak selalu yang di Jakarta atau kota lain di Jawa itu berkualitas tinggi. Jakarta atau yang lainnya jangan dijadikan kiblat. Perteateran tidak boleh memakai sistem politik sentralisasi dan sebagainya.'

(69) '... mendukung upaya menumbuh-suburkan pemikiran bahwa sastra Indonesia juga ada tersebar di kepuluauan. Mudah-rnudahan jadi salah satu puncak sastra lokal, yang menasional.' H. Udhin Palisuri, 'Passili', in Sastra kepulauan: Antologi, ed. Aliem Prasasti et al. (Makassar: Dewan Kesenian Sulawesi Selatan, 1999), p. i.

(70) Arge, 'Kenapa kita masih berteater?', pp. 542-4.

(71) Halim HD and BLU, 'Makassar Arts Forum: Desentralisasi kue seni' [Makassar Arts Forum: decentralization of the arts pie], Gamma, 19 Sept. 1999, p. 85; Ali Samad, 'Kesenian 99 (KIU-KIU)', Makassar Arts Forum '99 (Art '99), p. 3; Sudirman H.N., 'Makassar Arts Forum '99: Pelembagaan keberagaman dan desentralisasi kesenian' (Makassar Arts Forum: Institutionalising arts diversity and decentralization), Fajar, 19 Sept. 1999. This idea was also communicated by a local NGO staff member involved in organising the festival (Aswin Amin, personal communication, 2 Sept. 1999).

(72) Samad, 'Kesenian 99', p. 3.

(73) Field notes, 6 Aug. 2001.

(74) This particular turn to 'ritual' as a foundation for performance may be partially attributed to the work of Halilintar Lathief and his collaborators who, like several counterparts in Java during the 1980s and 1990s, intentionally incorporated relatively unrestrained and unaestheticised trance and other kinds of spiritual/sacral rituals into modern performances to create rather postmodern pastiches that at the same time both corresponded to and challenged the ways in which official government rhetoric called for the preservation of 'traditional' culture and values. This influence may have been particularly strong for Asia Ramli Prapanca and Teater Kita Makassar since both Prapanca and his close friend and collaborator, Is Hakim, have been involved with Lathief's group. However, the urge to incorporate elements of ritual went beyond Teater Kita, as was evident from some of Sanggar Merah Putih's productions under the direction of Arman Dewarti in the late 1990s, as well as in the performance art of Firman Jamil. For more on Halilintar Lathief, see Sutton, Calling back the spirit, pp. 69-103.

(75) Field notes, 4 and 6 Aug. 2001. The tradition of Western-style naturalistic or absurdist theatre has a long history in Makassar as this article has demonstrated. Thus, Prapanca's statement may reflect the difficulties some Makassar theatre workers have in adapting to the newer methods of performance construction based on abstract concepts, lack of overarching linear narrative, and improvisational movements explored during practices. In this style of theatre, drawing on local traditions of movement and expression, which may in part be familiar to participants, may be a necessity. However, it is important to keep in mind that many South Sulawesians may only be familiar with traditional genres as adapted and repackaged by modernising artists such as Andi Nurhani Sappada. See Sutton, Calling back the spirit, especially chs. 3, 4, and 8 for a discussion of the way in which traditions of performance in South Sulawesi have been transformed over the past several decades.

(76) Like Jamaluddin Latief's Kondobuleng dalam cerita: Mimpi, Petta Puang makes use of kondo buleng in the sense of adapting an imaginative, free-flowing kind of story interlaced with ample comedic elements. A number of Makassar arts figures made this comparison during a conversation in mid-2001 (Simon Abdul Murad, Ridwan Effendy, and Firman Jamil, field notes, 1 Aug. 2001).

(77) Field notes, 7 Aug. 2001.

(78) The chief examples would be the work of the Yogyakarta group, Teater Gardanalla, and, occasionally, that of the similarly Yogyakarta-based Teater Garasi. The trend toward once again using dialogue and linear story-based scripts, as opposed to the more symbolic, abstract, and non-linear performance pieces of the 1990s, could also be seen in several feminist plays by Jakarta women's groups and theatre workers, as well as the numerous monologue festivals held in recent years.

(79) Field notes, 14 July 2004.

(80) Much of this information on these recent works by Sanggar Merah Putih can be found at Arifin Manggau, 'Sanggar Merah Putih: Biografi', Kelola website, http://www.kelola.or. id/database/theatre/list/&alph=p_t (last accessed 9 Nov. 2011).

(81) Field notes, Shinta Febriani, 16 July 2004.

(82) Shinta Febriani, personal communication, 16 July 2004.

(83) Barbara Hatley, 'Subverting the stereotypes: Women performers contest gender images, old and new', Review of Indonesian and Malaysian Affairs, 41, 2 (2007): 196.

(84) This emphasis on identifying skilled actors indicated an interest in a more dialogue and textually-based style of acting and performance that echoes the development of Petta Puang and Sanggar Merah Putih Makassar. Shinta explained that the Festival Kala Monolog was intended to identify actors in Makassar, and to give them a chance to forge their acting skills and demonstrate their quality, for instance in their text-based performance, Waiting for Godot (Kala Teater, facebook contact, 27 Mar. 2011 and 22 Sept. 2011; Shinta Febriany, email communication, 2 Dec. 2011).

Michael Bodden is an Associate Professor at the University of Victoria, British Columbia. Correspondence in connection with this paper should be addressed to: mbodden@uvic.ca. I would like to thank the many people who helped me understand the workings of the contemporary theatre scene in Makassar. Fajar ('Egi') Massadiah accompanied me to Ujung Pandang on my first visit in February 1988 and helped introduce me to several prominent figures, including Yudhistira Sukatanya. Yudhistira generously shared his time and insights, and helped me locate close to two dozen theatre scripts. Since that first trip, Yudhistira and I have had repeated conversations that have always been of great interest. Aspar Paturusi also shared his experiences and offered me several insights into his own work. On more recent trips (1999, 2001, 2004), I have benefitted from conversations and various forms of assistance from Halim Hd., Andi Ilhamsyah Mattalata, Nurhayati Rahman, A.M. Mochtar, Ridwan Effendi, Simon Abdul Murad, Fahmi Syariff, Jacob Marala, Asia Ramli Prapanca, Firman Jamil, Arman Dewarti, Bahar Merdhu, Abdul Rojak, Shinta Febriany, Dede Leman, and Asmin Amin. I would also like to thank the two anonymous ]SEAS reviewers for a number of suggestions that have improved and enriched this article. Any remaining weaknesses are, of course, mine.
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