After waiting patiently for hours, hundreds of local residents – youth, children and elderly – packed the town hall of Mantrijeron to watch the Javanese traditional drama from Kethoprak.
Guyub Kampong, the title of the show, means “harmonious village.” It was performed in a total of three venues in Yogyakarta to equally enthusiastic receptions. The performance involved 30 young actors belonging to government youth organizations from 14 districts in Yogyakarta involving villages that have had a history of conflict or criminality.
The script was written by the famous kethoprak writer, Bondan Nusantara and directed by Ari Purnomo also a well known artist. The play told the story of villagers who live on land ruled by a feudal lord who cheats the villagers for personal benefit. Issues related to everyday life including out of wedlock pregnancy, conflict over garbage and access to water, were presented. The presence of marginalized groups, such as LGBT and the differently abled, in a traditional village were raised in a humorous light. But their issues also were given serious attention, portraying the challenges these groups face seeking acceptance and understanding.
Guyub Kampung came to life through collaboration between Genitama Community, a new youth community and AFSC. Budi Mirota, chairperson of Genitama Community who also acted in the play, said, "Nowadays kethoprak is difficult to find. Kethoprak is commonly played in the big stage or hall and presented by famous artists. We want to return kethoprak to its folk art roots."
Pedro Incarto, AFSC’s youth program officer, said Guyub Kampung “provides guidance so that youth can be exposed to new perspectives from different directions on such as issues of peace, gender, human rights, sexual orientation, and being differently abled.”
Genitama assistant director Joko Ari Purnomo said, "AFSC not only facilitated us to have the space to express our art, but also a new understanding about the conflict reconciliation within the media arts. AFSC Indonesia assisted our community in the process of making the kethoprak and community organizing.”.
The performances were highly interactive, featuring humorous call and response from the audience in everyday Javanese dialect.
Singgih Sapto Jatmiko, the Kricak village chief, shared "We are very pleased and the story was so impressive and what we hoped for. Government has capacity and power and must not abuse this power. People really appreciate the diversity that exists in Yogyakarta. Our people never discriminate one to another, all religions, ethnicities, transgender, and differently abled, take part in village activities and are given the same and equal space."
In the future, Joko said that Genitama Community hopes to continue using kethoprak as a medium for peace especially in places with the potential for conflict. "We want to reconcile people through kethoprak and preserve the art of kethoprak itself.”
Genitama Community is now in the process of creating a performance for Kulon Progo and Solo District. The hope is to strengthen unity to avoid conflict between Islamic organizations in Kulon Progo and prevent violence committed against cultural and traditional arts by Islamic fundamental groups in Solo.