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Antigone on the Contemporary World Stage$
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Erin B. Mee and Helene P. Foley

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199586196

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199586196.001.0001

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How the Fish Swims in Dirty Water: Antigone in Indonesia

How the Fish Swims in Dirty Water: Antigone in Indonesia

(p.156) 8 How the Fish Swims in Dirty Water: Antigone in Indonesia
Antigone on the Contemporary World Stage

Cobina Gillitt

Oxford University Press

This chapter analyses a production of Antigone staged in 1974 as a response to government censorship in Indonesia. Rendra, one of Indonesia's best-known cultural figures, was banned from the theatre for staging a play that featured a repressive dictator who prioritizes economic development above all else. At the time, open criticism of President Soeharto's ‘New Order’ government (1966–98) was ‘against the law’. Rendra's version stressed the eternal justice of natural law as opposed to the injustice of state laws implemented by transitory rulers. The Chinese martial art silat contributed movement vocabulary to the production, which caused critics to interpret it as a version of ketoprak, ‘a rural Javanese popular operetta...that uses humour to voice the problems of the common man in order to avoid political censorship’. In addition, Rendra responded to the fashion for elite Western theatre by valorizing Indonesian traditional performance.

Keywords:   Antigone, Greek tragedy, Sophocles, Rendra, Indonesian theatre, silat, theatre, classics, reception, remaking

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