From November 21st to December 9th, theater enthusiasts are in for a special treat as a total of 26 theater groups will be part of the Jakarta Theater Festival 2016. The festival will officially be opened at Plaza Teater Kecil, Taman Ismail Marzuki at 7 PM with a collaboration performance by a number of artists from different disciplines titled “T.T.T (To the Tit)”, directed by Yustiansyah Lesmana (Jakarta), Dramaturg Taufiq Darwis (Bandung), and Ensamble Tikoro (Bandung). The performance that tells the story about evacuation will take place around a giant whale-shaped bamboo installation called The Leviathan Lamalera, created by Jonas Sestakresna (Denpasar).

No Boundaries at This Year’s Jakarta Theater Festival (3)

This year’s theme a “//Trans><isi//” – written like the computer programme – attempts to remove the boundaries between tradition and modernism. When it comes to the history of Indonesian performing arts, artists often seem to be trapped in the selection of one particular theater. Once the artists choose one of the theatrical forms, for example modern theater, they will leave behind the traditional form while in fact the latter still has a market and a loyal audience. In other words, the festival must be able to respond to the changes of the market.

According to the Theater Committee Chairman of the Jakarta Art Council, Afrizal Malna, by removing these boundaries, traditional theaters can become more involved again and adapt to the current changes, and thus traditional and modern theaters can both produce their best works and relinquish the dichotomy of the boundaries between traditional and modern.

No Boundaries at This Year’s Jakarta Theater Festival (1)

The theater groups taking part in the festival are divided into four “wings”: Main Wing, Guest Wing, Classic Wing and Perspective Wing. The Main Wing consists of 16 groups that have previously gone through elimination rounds in five Jakarta areas. The Guest Wing contains four groups, namely the Jaring Project (Yogyakarta), Artery (Jakarta), Padepokan Seni Madura (Madura) and Sena Didi Mime Indonesia (Jakarta). The Classic Wing features traditional theater groups from Jakarta like Lenong Denes Puja Betawi (Betawi traditional theater), Sahibul Hikayat Ita Saputra (Betawi oral literature with origins from the Middle East), Wayang Orang Bharata (human puppet troupe) and Sandiwara Sunda Miss Tjitjih (Sundanese traditional theater). The Perspective Wing contains two theater groups that will perform during the opening and closing of the festival.

A novelty at this year’s festival is the presence of a curator. The festival committee wanted to change the direction of the festival from a mere contest to a more curated content.

No Boundaries at This Year’s Jakarta Theater Festival (2)

The festival is organized by the theater committee of the Jakarta Art Council and is supported by the Department of Culture and Tourism of the Jakarta Provincial Government as well as the Creative Economy Board.

For more information and ticket bookings, please call +62 21 3193 7639, 3162 780, 3989 9634 or visit

NOW! Jakarta

NOW! Jakarta

The article is produced by editorial team of NOW!Jakarta