Developments in modern theatre of Indonesia
: generation, degeneration, and regeneration of a cultural medium

  • Ian Jarvis Brown

    Student thesis: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - CDU


    On account of the diversity of traditional and popular forms of theatre that are deeprooted throughout the regions of Indonesia, modern theatre practice is in the process ofstrengthening identity and place as a culturally rich performance tradition. This is evidentwhen exploring the history of that theatre using research methods based on the best possiblescientific practices available. Those methods require flexibility. There are no fixed sets ofvalues, rules or codes of practice of a kind that are rooted within the genres of Indonesianperforming arts themselves. 

    Unlike those genres, which are somewhat astonishing in number and variety, there islimited documentation concerning developments in modern theatre. This applies equally todocumentation within Indonesia and without. Therefore I have found it necessary to reach asfar as possible into the social, cultural and political roots of the theatre over several successiveperiods of generation, degeneration and regeneration of theatre groups and to access allresources available. 
    In order to explore developments from the late 1880's, the study employs adocumentary strategy addressing relevant periods, creative dynamics, and specific phenomenaoccurring in the history of modern theatre. I emphasize a new literature of nationalism for thetheatre, the influence of Western style and form, effects of foreign administrations under theDutch and the Japanese and including a discussion of the measures of control administered inthe governance of the Indonesian Republic itself. 

    Findings in the study reveal a theatre that is multi-dimensional and multi-directionalinspired by performance traditions drawn from the roots of a rich cultural heritage. Theseroots are fundamental to the generation of new traditions and are the cornerstone of moderntheatre forms up to this day. They are of regional significance for development of the theatrein the provinces, particularly as the movement towards regional autonomy strengthens. 
    The study is not confined to documentary form alone. It is also intended as a criticalanalysis of the problems modern Indonesian theatre has faced in the past and which continueto be symptomatic to this day. In this respect the dissertation opens up prospects for futureresearch at all levels of endeavour by academics, theatre practitioners, and students of thetheatre who desire to pursue further developments in modern Indonesian theatre. 

    Date of Award2001
    Original languageEnglish

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