Exclusive Garin Nugroho Shares Theater Performance Experiences In The Netherlands And Germany During The Pandemic
Garin Nugroho (Photo: Savic Rabos, DI: Raga/VOI)

JAKARTA - When the COVID-19 pandemic is prolonged in Indonesia, Garin Nugroho brings good news. The director from Jogjakarta was able to perform the theater titled "The Planet – A Lament" at the International Theater Amsterdam, the Netherlands and at the Open Air Theater Gustaf-Grundgens-Platz in Dusseldorf, Germany at the end of last June.

Are there no COVID-19 in Germany and the Netherlands? How can the audience be present directly in the theater performance? Is it true that COVID-19 can be overcome? Through a virtual conversation, Garin Nugroho shared his experience with VOI, last 16 July.

"Currently we are doing PPKM so we just stay at home. Yesterday there was a plan to make a film which was also postponed. The performances in the Netherlands and Germany happened because actually in Europe there was a third vaccine stage, after the vaccine was all public trials. So all theatrical performances, music, football is tested on how the crowd looks like, what kind of influence it has," Garin said.

Garin Nugroho (Photo: Savic Rabos, DI: Raga/VOI)

This Javanese Satan director said that there were several countries in Europe that made easing, such as in the Netherlands. "When we were there, there was an easing. Even though the government later apologized because the relaxation resulted in new cases of COVD-19. Festivals were being built, still with the COVID-19 protocol. In the Netherlands, 50% of the capacity can be filled, still using an antigen swab. ," he said.

While in Germany, in public spaces there is no need to wear masks anymore. "But if the performance is indoors, you still wear a mask. The theater performance must be out door. This is a kind of togetherness to build overcoming the COVID-19 problems," he recalled.

"Many countries have indeed tried to open international festivals to test whether they can be relaxed very loosely. And I think what is interesting to learn is the communication of measurable guidelines. What are the successes, what failures, that kind of thing," he added.

Garin Nugroho (Photo: Savic Rabos, DI: Raga/VOI)

The Planet - A Lament tells a touching story about the re-creation of nature after the world was destroyed by natural disasters based on Papuan mythology. This theatrical performance elevates healing rituals for a grieving world while providing hope for those left behind.

"The Planet – A Lament show has a theme of melanism, about nature, the tsunami outbreak and so on," said Garin.

It is said that after a natural disaster that destroyed the world, there was a human who survived who was given the mandate of an egg to continue life in the world. In this performance, Garin Nugroho collaborated with 24 players and teams from various regions in Indonesia, such as Papua, East Nusa Tenggara, as well as from various other parts of Indonesia.

In the performance, Garin also brought up various Indonesian cultures, such as those from Papua, Flores, North Sumatra, and Java. These theater performers also come from various regions in Indonesia. Because the players come from various regions in Indonesia, Garin must 'carry the heart' in every process of the trip. "Fortunately, the players of The Planet – A Lament were all from leaving to returning. Even though there were tensions. All the players from Papua, NTT, Merauke, every process must have a swab. So we are always tense waiting for the results of the swab, "he recalled.

The biggest challenge apart from the performance itself is maintaining the spirit and understanding of the COVID-19 protocol. "Because there are many questions from institutions in Europe, right. And there are so many conditions that we have to meet. Including the touch on stage, it shouldn't take long, it's an adjustment. So the spirit must be maintained," said the director of Daun di Atas Pillow.

"Until the Netherlands wants another swab show. Later, there will be tension because there are results that have not all come out. So between enthusiasm and ability, enthusiasm to keep following the progress and confidence must remain high," he added.

What made Garin breathable was that The Planet – A Lament had already performed in Australia and all of them were financed by foreign countries. "Yes, they have seen the players from various islands, it's all a process that must be passed. And that's the challenge. In the Netherlands also prepared a room for training, but with a quarantine system," he said.

Adjustment of Works in Indonesia

Garin Nugroho (Photo: Savic Rabos, DI: Raga/VOI)

In addition to theater performances in the Netherlands and Germany, Garin Nugroho is also the Executive Producer for the Nurbaya theatrical performances. The musical was produced by Garin Nugroho, the Nusantara Musical Theater group (TEMAN), and BOOW Live is based on the classic novel Sitti Nurbaya: Kasih Tak Sampai by Marah Rusli.

Unlike other productions, the Nurbaya Musical Series is entirely filled by art workers who have participated in a series of online programs to search for talented young Indonesian artists, which began in December 2020 through the online program Seeking Siti.

These art workers have gone through detailed and intensive vocal, choreographic and acting training to present the story of the adaptation of this Indonesian literary work in a new packaging without leaving the regional elements of the Minang community.

In addition, Garin also produces the film A Perfect Fit which airs on Netflix. The whole process of shooting this film was done in Bali. With a crew of hundreds of people, Garin must be prepared with production risks in the midst of a pandemic.

"Indeed, the reefs often falter too. Like yesterday, making the film A Perfect Fit by bringing 150 crew to Bali in the middle of the December pandemic. If someone gets hit, the production will be expensive and so on. If you think about it properly, it's like going to Europe. "Oh, it doesn't have to be like that. But then when we think that many people need productivity and the economy. If we are able to go through good protocol procedures and remain productive, it raises enthusiasm during the pandemic," he said.

Garin Nugroho (Photo: Savic Rabos, DI: Raga/VOI)

His love for art finally made Garin dissolved in the production process and was able to control the worries that arise due to the pandemic. "As soon as I said yes, I forgot about all the complications. Even when making a film with a total crew of 200 people, every gene antigen test was worried that someone would get it or not, someone would get it or not. player contracts again," he said.

Luckily during the production process, none of the crew was exposed to COVID-19. "Health, body immunity, awareness to keep the body from being exposed, there must be such togetherness," he said.

But there is no storm that does not subside. Like challenging the pandemic by remaining creative, Garin actually produced a new format for Nurbaya's music that was digitally more interesting.

The Nurbaya musical series not only pays attention to music but also visually. With modern pop culture culture where the fashion world is undergoing major changes that change the style of dress to become more fashionable.

Garin Nugroho (Photo: Savic Rabos, DI: Raga/VOI)

By combining digital processes, the performances broadcast on YouTube are more pleasing to the audience because they can see the details of events on stage. Something that is hard to come by, of course, when the audience sits on chairs to watch on stage.

"In the midst of a pandemic crisis that must be completely online and accompanied by the acceleration of technology, we are forced to live with technology, virtual experiences, and are also forced to use deep online communication methods. So when there is an online culture, there are exploration efforts to make it enjoyable to watch online instead of only offline," he said.

Despite many obstacles and challenges, Garin mentions many new discoveries. "For a three-day theater performance, for example, at least 4,000 are watched. But online, the audience can be hundreds of thousands, even millions. Therefore, the new online game gives us birth to a new journey that we must take notes as a new guide when working," he said.

Government facilitation, according to him, is obligated to provide clear guidelines. "I think the government's guidelines are not clear, so people are looking for their own guidance in understanding COVID-19. I hope that if COVID-19 cannot be completed, there will be government facilitation in online adjustments. does not fit online, the government must pay attention to it," he said.

Adaptation of important institutions in Indonesia requires standardization of technology so that there is no inequality of access and in the end there is an imbalance in the work process.

This spirit of continuing to adapt is also what makes Garin Nugroho always cooperate with young people for collaboration. 40 years of work, Garin Nugroho never tire of transmitting his energy and knowledge to new directors.

"Art is collaborative work, therefore directors need to find resources that grow continuously. Maybe films don't need that, but you as a teacher and director, you need a community to grow together. I work with young people and continue to accompany them. need new talent they have grown well," he said.

"I am a teacher who must have the ability to share his knowledge and knowledge with talented people. Celebrating 40 years of work, I work with various types of works, broadcast spaces, and generations."

Garin Nugroho


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