Art is the most freeing form of expression that humans can ever pour into. Inspirations can be found everywhere, though only few can grasp its essence and even turn into a work of art. Jakarta-based Teater Pandora breathes a new theatrical concept in delivering their art interpretations. It’s all about expressing loudly, realistically, freely and detailed-oriented.
Teater Pandora is a troupe of people who share the same passion in expressing themselves through scenes. They came up with #MempermainkanRuang, a new interactive concept where the drama scenes take place among the audience. So the audience really feels the level of intimacy of being part of the show. We met the main actor in the team and the mind behind Pandora: Bagus Adisaputra and Muhammad Faisal Ashraf.
How many years has Teater Pandora been serving people with its work of art? And how has it been so far?
M: “Teater Pandora is entering its fifth year, so probably since 2014. In the beginning, we form Pandora for fun, to make art only for the sake of theatre, to express ourselves. We have a lot of alumni members. But gradually, it has become something serious, so we changed our vision and mission.”
B: “We believe that theatre is a beautiful creation of humanity – which is our tagline. We always try our best to present a story of humans that are relevant and relatable, giving the audience something more. And hopefully, it ignites them to start something new.”
“Pandora has 3 pillars: Appreciation, Affiliation and Education. Appreciation – as a group of artists who appreciate and do arts. Affiliation – we keep growing to build a bigger community. Education – to carry forward Pandora’s arts to others; to teach and to share about the theatre world.”
B: “Our last purpose is to be an option for youth to spend their weekends. Bring theatres to them, hence “Mempermainkan Ruang” was born. Where we do our play in a more relax environment such as cafes and bars.”
Which play is the most challenging and memorable?
“Every play is memorable because we start everything from scratch. Each has its own difficulties and uniqueness, which can’t be compared to one another. If I really have to say the hardest one, then it would be when we started producing “Mempermainkan Ruang” campaign, where we get out of the stage—meaning we have to anticipate things since it’s not performed on stage. We perform in cafes and bars as said before, and just maximize the given space, so each play gave us a new challenge as we play in a totally different venue every time.”
M: “Also, it’s not only about starting from zero, but we keep challenging ourselves since our first play where we do conventional plays in a conventional theatre. We also keep honing our skill, quality, costumes. Last year’s conventional play ‘Rumah Rahasia Perempuan’ at Grha Bhakti Budaya was actually our last play in that theatre building, and it was one of our biggest projects. For the play, we built a two-story house on stage, we used proper furniture that costed IDR 90 million, we did some crowd sourcing for the furniture as well as the costumes.”
Talking about #MempermainkanRuang, what do you think the purposes of moving the stage elsewhere are?
M: “The easiest answer is that we wanted to expand further. I’ve been doing theatres for nine years, from one group to another until Pandora. Personally, I got chills from watching conventional theatres. If you watch movies, you get to see the trailers first—it’s far different in theatres. You can only see posters, no review or anything, and price wise it costs from IDR 75 thousand to a million. That’s where you feel a bit intimidated, the thought of not knowing what you’ll get actually gives you a sense of anxiety; is this play worth it or not. That’s the approach we applied for #MempermainkanRuang in Hatchi. People were there for good play, good food, good drinks, and basically good time.”
B: #MempermainkanRuang is not only about where we do our play but also as a platform for the young people to express themselves. In our point of view, instead of waiting for the government to provide the much needed art spaces, why not just explore with the available places. Getting out from our conventional comfort zone and create our own.”
Your new project is called “Vivere Madeia”, could you explain the correlation with Saudade 1, 2, 3? And what did you decide to postpone to 2020?
“ ‘Vivere Madeia’ is one of our saga, it’s like the Lords of the Rings trilogy. We’d like to create a theatrical like universe, just like MCU. Vivere Madeia will be presented next year as Saudade 1, an opening to Pandora Theatrical Universe. We have actually presented our Saudade 3 some time ago, and Saudade 2 will follow Saudade 1 to be played next year.”
“Saudade means that longing of something that perhaps does not exist. We create Indonesian historical story with an alternate reality, so it’s filled with history, drama, politics, romance, with each chapter has its own focus. We plan it for 2020 because after we thought about it, we want this project to be well-executed. For us, it’s all about quality.”
B: “And I’m confident this is the first ever in Indonesia.”
Theaters are always connected with costumes, what are the looks you’ll be going to apply for ‘Vivere Madeia’?
B: “Pandora always pays full attention in costumes, we have fashion designers all over the place to be detailed-oriented. It costs a lot actually, the biggest cost most probably. We wear a lot of classic 60s to 90s costumes for this play. For the romance theme, we’ll have wedding dresses, for the politics theme—it’s all about outfit during the era.”
M: “We can say that our first inspiration is The Great Gatsby. The head of our design team will go to Milan to continue her costume studies and will be back to Indonesia to revise the costumes. We always do historical research as core references, artistic view, and director’s needs. Colors and materials are also very important, it’s like as simple thing as handkerchiefs. It shapes the characters that will be playing, and it gives audience at least a hint of how the character would behave.”
What do you want to achieve as Pandora?
“We want to spread the spirit that this is not about the theatre, this is not about Pandora. #MempermainkanRuang is about how young people could be able to thrive with all the challenges. Limitation can actually be an opportunity – that is the message that we want to share through our creation. Next year, we are hoping not only Pandora but also other theatre groups to join, to do something together. What actually Pandora want to achieve is not only for Pandora, but about theatre, about young people, about Indonesia.”
“True, it’s about the industry, for theatres to go forward together. I always see Pandora as Broadway, about how every detail matters a lot in Broadway; from costume, lighting, and others. I always say to myself that in 10 years to come, I’d love it if Indonesia has a lot of plays in any venue with various price ranges—and without having to worry whether this play is worth it or not.”
Editor: Galuh Tathya
Writer: Ervina Michelle Liem
Interviewer: Windyannisa Cindrati
Photographer: Vicky Melly
Digital Imaging: Ari Angga
Stylist: Salsabila Sari
Wardrobe: TFT available at TheFThing.com