CALIBAN REMEMBERS:
BALINESE TEMPEST


The Annex Theatre
September 23 - 26, 2004
Thursday – Sunday 7:30pm
Sunday matinee 2:30pm

Director: I Nyoman Catra
Composer: Desak Suartilaksmi
Orchestra Director: I Nyoman Saptanyan
Co-Director: Ron Jenkins


Balinese masked dancers, a twenty five piece Balinese gamelan orchestra, a giant sacred dragon, and a Balinese shadow puppet master will bring Shakespeare's "Tempest" to life in "Caliban Remembers: A Balinese Tempest" as part of the La MaMa Puppet Series Festival September 23-26. The piece will be performed with shadow puppets, masks, and music performed by the gamelan orchestra of the Indonesian Consulate of New York. The work is directed by I Nyoman Catra, a master of traditional Balinese Masked Dance and Shadow Puppetry, and American director Ron Jenkins.

The production sets Shakespeare's mystical story through the memory of Caliban, using traditional Balinese shadow puppets and human actors moving and dancing in Balinese choreography (which is rooted in the movement of puppets). The role of Caliban is played by I Nyoman Catra, who made his New York debut performing with Julie Taymor and Bill Irwin at La Mama in the early 1980's.

The role of Ariel will be sung and danced by Desak Suartilaksmi, who has set Shakespeare's lyrics to original Balinese music based on sacred chants. The twenty five members of the Balinese gamelan orchestra Dharmaswara, under the direction of I Nyoman Saptanayana, will play traditional gongs, metal xylophones, and drums in addition to performing the spectacular interlocking choral chanting dance known as Kecak. The play will also include the Balinese dragon-god Barong and the witch-goddess Rangda, masked figures that represent the ongoing struggle between the good and evil elements of human nature.

Director I Nyoman Catra and his collaborator Ron Jenkins chose to stage "The Tempest" because of its theme of non-violent response to aggression. In a recent conference on art and politics in Denpasar, Bali, Catra and Jenkins discussed the parallels between the lessons Prospero learns on the island about forgoing vengeance and the response of the Balinese to the terrorist bombings of October 12, 2002. Their remarks included the following statement:

"Unlike the American response to terrorism, which answered violence with war, the Balinese answered violence with art. The predominantly Hindu population staged religious ceremonies in every village that included music, dance, and ritual offerings that encouraged the island's inhabitants to look inside themselves for the causes of violence.

(On the same day that this spiritual cleansing ceremony took place in every Balinese village, a parallel ceremony was enacted at the site of the World Trade Center bombing in New York. The rituals in New York were led by I Nyoman Catra, director of "Caliban Remembers: A Balinese Tempest," with music provided by the Dharmaswara Gamelan orchestra.)

"To some outsiders, responding to terrorism with sacred art and ritual might seem naive, but the Balinese are proud to report that the perpetrators of the Balinese bombings have been captured, tried, and imprisoned, and the island is safe again. If Muslim terrorists had attacked a Hindu population center anywhere else in the world, there would probably have been ethnic riots. The fact that the Balinese, who live in the world's most populous Muslim nation, were able to resolve their conflicts peacefully through art and prayer, is a story that has not received the international attention it deserves. While our production of 'The Tempest' does not refer directly to current events, Shakespeare's story reminds us all of our responsibility to look inside ourselves for the causes of violence before we attack others, particularly in Prospero's response to the half-human creature Caliban who tried to kill him, 'This thing of darkness I acknowledge mine.'"

In addition to performers from Indonesia, the cast of "A Balinese Tempest" includes actors from Turkey, Italy, and an Iraqi-American actress. The production was made possible with support from the Asian Cultural Council of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Indonesian Consulate in New York.

I Nyoman Catra (director, featured performer) is a master of traditional Balinese masked dance and puppetry who specializes in the roles of the clowns. He is currently a fellow of the Asian Cultural Council at Wesleyan University.

Desak Suartilaksmi (composer, featured performer) is a composer of new and traditional Balinese Music. She is currently the Luce Visiting Professor of Music at Holy Cross College.

I Nyoman Saptanyan (orchestra director) is the co-director of the gamelan Dharmaswara at the Indonesian consulate of New York.

Ron Jenkins (co-director) is a former Guggenheim Fellow whose research in Bali has been supported by fellowships from the Asian Cultural Council and the Watson Foundation. He recently translated and directed the works of Dario Fo at the American Repertory Theater and the Provincetown Playhouse.

With the La MaMa Puppet Series Festival, Ellen Stewart's multi-arts organization once again takes its place as a leading US entry point for artists from around the world, and where the international influence on New York artists is most on display. This festival features multicultural works from India, Poland, Bali, Japan and the Czech Republic in addition to two that, while crafted in New York, are brimming with international art forms. The series culminates October 7 to 10 with a revival of "Motel" by Jean-Claude van Itallie, the puppet segment of his famous "America Hurrah" trilogy, the watershed Off-Broadway play of the Sixties. The festival is supported by The Henson International Festival of Puppet Theater and utilizes all three of La MaMa's performance theaters.

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