Text & photos: Ifan F. Harijanto & DKJ documentation
Translated by: Alfa M. Adiwidjaja
Jakarta – After successfully arranging several events in public spaces (public facilities) such as Kali Ciliwung Pasar Baru, Central Park Jakarta, and Tugu, and lastly arranging “The Dress” – an exhibition of red long dress designed by an American artist Julie Laffin – at the Taman Impian Jaya Ancol; this time on January 7, Jakarta Biennale #14 held a Cap Go Meh theatrical performance at the Klenteng Petak Sembilan Jakarta Barat. It was titled “Nonton Cap Gomeh”, and written by a Malay-Chinese litterateur Kwee Tek Hoay. In the past 2004, the Nonton Cap Go Meh drama was performed in the commemoration of Pemuda Tridarma golden anniversary at Balai Sarbini.
Nonton Cap Go Meh – means watching cap go meh – told the story of a conflict between two in-law families, resulted from the jealousy among their children [in-laws]. This story told the conflict between the elderly and the young Tionghoa [Chinese] people regarding their cultural values. The script was written by Kwee Tek Hoay and it was published in 1930.
Nonton Cap Go Meh
Thomas (Wie Sien) and Lies were quarreling in the living room/main room of Lies’ house. Thomas wanted Lies (his wife) to accompany him and his friends to watch the Cap Go Meh because she had made a promise to him. But her parents forbid Lies to go alone with Thomas. So she wanted Thomas to go with her and her family. In the end Lies decides to go with her family, and she allowed Thomas to go with his friends. And then Lies went to her room. Thomas was upset. But unexpectedly, his friend Frans Liem came to the house. At first, Thomas was going to say to Lies that he will stay at home. However, Frans suggests that Thomas should go with a girl. Thus Frans will disguise himself as a girl.
Next, the setting changed to a night bazaar. Mrs. Tjiau, her three daughters, Diana, and three family members, all women, were sitting at Tuan Gemoek’s restaurant. They watched the passing crowd and at the same time commented on everything (except Lies and Diana). All of a sudden Diana saw Thomas was walking with a girl. Diana approached him, and Thomas introduces Frans as Siocia Goei, and then they went straight to the congregating crowds. After that, Lies and her family went home. Upon hearing his wife’s story, Mr. Tjiau Koe went mad. He went out to find Thomas though he was rather ill at the moment (severe flu). Inside a room, Lies was crying and Diana was consoling her. Diana suggested an idea of retaliation by using another man. So Diana would disguise herself as a man.
Mr. Tjiau Koe waited for Thomas on the street, but half an hour had gone and he still did not find him. He came across Lieutenant Kie Kang, his family member who was also related to Thomas, who was also the matchmaker of Thomas and Lies. Lie Kang asked Tjiau Koe to wait at home, and let him handle the problem. Incidentally, shortly after that Kie Kang met a friend of Thomas who told him that Thomas and Frans were resting at Frans’ mother’s house. Then Thomas and Frans were brought home to explain the problem to his in-laws. Meanwhile, Lies and the disguising Diana were met by Anny, Thomas’ sister who was having dinner at the Hongkong Restaurant with Thomas’ parents, Mr. and Mrs. Lioe Beng. Lioe Beng was surprised when he saw Lies. So they went to Tjau Koe’s residence to ask for an explanation. At the Tjiau Koe’s residence, the entire family member was calling out for Lies, but they did not get any answer. They panicked and thought that Lies has committed suicide. While they were panicking, Lioe Beng and his wife turned up. Soon they were having a quarrel, accusing their son and daughter-in-law of wrongdoing, and defended their own child. At the same time, Lies and Diana were listening in a relatively hidden place. Earlier, Diana blamed Lies for responding when Thomas’ sister greeted them, thus causing this problem. They finally decided to go home. In front of the house, they saw that Lioe Beng and his wife have entered the house. So they hide in the garden. Later on they agreed to explain what this is all about. When they were in front of the house, they met Kie Kang, Thomas, and Frans (still in disguise). They explained to each other, and then Kie Kang asked them to wait outside.
Kie Kang noticed the commotion inside the Tjiau Koe’s residence. So he called Frans and Diana, both of them was still in disguise. In front of the parents, they opened their masks. Shortly after, Thomas and Lies entered the house. In the end Lies’ parents did not dare to forbid their daughter to go alone with her husband anymore. Finally they held a party together to commemorate Cap Go Meh as well as celebrating the victory of the modern society over the old society.
Jakarta Biennale #14 had been a Fine Arts celebration that can break through space and boundaries that probably had been uncommon in a society, mainly in an urban society like Jakarta. The presence of some events like this was expected to open the eyes of the city’s policy-makers to provide opportunities for artists and creative doers who wish to perform their activities in public spaces, as much as possible. Because all this time it seems difficult for them to arrange events that express their arts, due to the complication in bureaucracy, in order to obtain the permit to arrange and hold an event. There are many positive aspects from the Jakarta Biennale #14. One of them is that the people get to know that the art of expression is very interesting and can provide an option for an entertainment in Jakarta. Apparently this has been proven; every events of the Jakarta Biennale #14 were all crowded by visitors (spectators).
Kwee Tek Hoay – The Versatile Malay Litterateur
For Kwee Tek Hoay, literature is a means to educate people. The first thing that he wanted to share is the idea of assimilation (Jacob Sumardjo, 100th KTH: 118). Kwee Tek Hoay was born on July 31, 1886, he is the youngest son of a Chinese-medicines merchant who also opened a textile shop and lived in Bogor, West Java. Since a young boy he was already a bookworm, and his talent in writing had been observed when he was still at school. His writing hobby had become a profession and his works was spread in numerous printed medias, such as the LI PO weekly, Ho Po newspaper, and Bintang Betawi. He was once being the chief editor of the Harian Sin Bin (Bandung, 1925), and then consecutively served the editorial board of Panorama weekly (1930-1932) and then at the Moestika Panorama weekly magazine (1930-1934) which later changed its name to Moestika Romans, and then at the Moestika Dharma weekly (1932-1934), then at the Sam Kauw Gwat Po (1934-1947) which was specializing in religion-related issues. In 1931, Kwee Tek Hoay set up Moestika printing and publishing company in Jakarta, which later moved to Cicurug, Bogor in 1935. One of Kwee’s attentions in journalism was the life of the Chinese-Indonesian ethnic communities in Indonesia. Leo Suryadinata, an expert of political science from National University of Singapore, has spoken regarding this issue: “Perhaps Kwee is the most competent Chinese-Indonesian writer, who wrote about the Chinese-Indonesian ethnic issues prior to the second World War. The later university educated Chinese-Indonesians who wrote about Chinese-Indonesians ethnics were just started emerging in the forties, …” (Politik Tionghoa Peranakan di Jawa: 14).
Apart of being a journalist – after got married in 1906 – Kwee was also a successful merchant, and he owned a variety store named “Toko KTH”. And then attentively, he taught his wife to do business. Claudine Lombard Salmon told that in the catalogue of the Chinese-Indonesian ethnic’s literature, there are 115 titles of Kwee Tek Hoay’s works that were managed to be collected. But it is clear that these are just a part of all of his works that conveyed many things, such as politics and education, social and culture, women subjects, literature, religion, the use of the correct Malay language, prose techniques, and many more. From his numerous works, 25 of them are established as literary works. Some of his literary works that has been widely noticed by the people are Boenga Roos dari Tjikembang (1927), and Kehidupannya Sri Panggung (1931). Beside his great interest towards books and other reading materials, one thing that greatly influenced Kwee Tek Hoay’s works is his capability in mastering English, Hokkien, Dutch, Sundanese, and Malay language extremely well. Now it is almost half a century later after he passed away in July 4, 1952, and it still seems difficult to find a person of Kwee Tek Hoay’s caliber, who possessed tremendous energy and a wide range of interests. It is mainly because Kwee Tek Hoay was altogether a merchant, teacher, writer, printer, and a publisher of his works. Kwee Tek Hoay was also a person who possessed a substantial understanding of politics, economy, education, literature, social, and religion, all of which that was being put in his works. There were also a lot of activities that Kwee Tek Hoay did almost simultaneously, from being a businessman, critique, organizer, litterateur, journalist, and later in his life, a clergy. His latest achievement is the Honorary Charter given by the President of the Republic of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who awarded the Tanda Kehormatan bintang Budaya Parama Dharma [the star of Budaya Parama Dharma Mark of Honor] for Kwee Tek Hoay as a Malay litterateur in November 7, 2011.
Teater Bejana – A Vessel that will always be useful for others
Teater Bejana was established in May 19, 2002, by a group of young people who always wanted to keep creating works of art, they are Daniel Hariman Jacob, Felencia, Chaca, In Bene, Dinda, Ayu, and Jaja. They started their debut in April 2003, by performing the Cairan Perempuan drama, written by Riris K. Toha Sarumpaet and received good reception from theater critique, the press, and public. Despite being a new group, the Teater Bejana’s personnel are reasonably experienced in their fields and had been active for quite some times in the art world, whether it was theater, music, dance, or paintings. By bringing the spirit and love for the theater world, along with a considerable idealism, they joined and formed a theatrical group that they consider would channel their ideas. That is why they chose the name Teater Bejana [Bejana means vessel], and like a vessel, they would fill it until it is full, fill it again when its empty, and then share its contents so it would always be useful for others. Teater Bejana was quite active in producing works. In December 2003, they performed the drama, Hamil, written by a French litterateur Andre Rousin, at the Gedung Kesenian Jakarta. In February 2004 they performed Kwee Tek Hoay’s Boenga Roos dari Tjikembang at the Taman Ismail Marzuki. In August 28, 2004, Nonton Capgomeh was performed at the Balai Sarbini, in celebration of Pemuda Tridarma’s Golden Anniversary. In 2010, Teater Bejana performed Pentjoeri Hati, an adaptation of the drama Pentjoeri, written by Kwee Tek Hoay, and Limbuk Njaluk Married, written by Asep Sambodja, both of them directed by Daniel Hariman Jacob. And most recently, in February 8-9, 2011, once more Teater Bejana performed Kwee Tek Hoay’s work titled Zonder Lentera, at Gedung Kesenian Jakarta.