Through the Lens of an Intern

After the performance on Thursday, Nalitari kept the train rolling with two educational events, a workshop on Friday (27/7) and a friendly “Broken English” platform on Monday (30/7). The workshop was an open discussion on Arts Management, more specifically the “behind the scenes” aspect of performance management. We went over types of positions needed to help run a show (i.e. stage manager, backstage crew, lighting designer, etc), purpose of each position, whether they were needed or not (depending on the size of the performance and the amount of resources available), and how the function of the positions differed between America and Indonesia.

As someone who has not worked with an organization outside of the United States, it was enlightening to hear from the members and talk about their experiences helping the dancers from behind the curtains. Particularly, when helping the dancers with disabilities without causing them to feel singled out. In the end, I learned that the difference did not mainly rest with the cultural differences, but in the available resources. Nalitari usually puts the tasks of multiple positions to one position because their resources are limited. And their shows still function just as well as a professional show in America. Proof that anything is possible with heart and determination; which, Nalitari has an abundance of.

The friendly platform discussion Nalitari took part in, brought people together to discuss the movie, Unseen Words, directed by Wahyu Utami. The movie is about a visually impaired community in Jogja, “Distra Budaya,” that gets together to practice and perform ketoprak jowo (a traditional type of theatrical performance which originated from Solo).

In this movie, they focus on the process of preparing, staging, and rehearsing the performance using methods unique to their needs as performers. Distra Budaya members also discuss how they handle the issues that come with their conditions. Said issues addressed are not specific to the little things of everyday life, but address group members’ ever-present socio-economic challenges. One example being a man who owns a massage business, but gets paid less than other masseuses because of his disability (Rp. 50.000 as opposed to the average 250.000-500.000). But despite the circumstances, they choose to keep their faith and continue working hard for what they love to do.

The workshop as well as the film has opened eyes to various issues that, normally, we are blind to. The discussion brought a lot of perspective to the table especially when Tiara (one of the founders of Nalitari) explained, “Our goal is not to change the people, but change the methods of which we dance to fit the person. So, if we have visually impaired people come, we’ll dance with more touch because that’s how we’ll need to communicate.”

A huge thank you to Nalitari (from the discussion group and the world) for opening up the hearts and minds of those who partake in their activities and watch their performances. As perfectly stated by a member, “Thank you for allowing people to tell us what they need instead of assuming we already know.” And a thank you to the director for sharing her thought-provoking work with us all.

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