Prince Claus fund supports performance of I La Galigo in Indonesia

May 2004 -

The Prince Claus fund will be supporting the performances of the Indonesian music-theatre production I La Galigo in Indonesia because of the importance of this piece to the cultural heritage of the people of Sulawesi.

The music-theatre production I La Galigo by director Robert Wilson will experience its European premiere on Wednesday, 12 May 2004 in the Muziektheater in Amsterdam. This theatrical event is based on the Sureq Galigo, an epic poem of the Bugis, a people in South Sulawesi. The poem, probably written between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries, is about the creation of the world and the first six generations of its inhabitants. Although the epos is not widely known, it is considered one of the masterpieces of world literature.

Indonesian dancer Restu Kusumaningrum drew the attention of theatre-maker Robert Wilson to the epos together with anthropologist Rhoda Grauer, who took responsibility for the dramaturgy. Wilson contacted Change Performing Arts in Milan, Italy, an organisation that has been working with artists such as Peter Greenaway and Philip Glass for more than ten years. The dancers in the production were selected via the Purnati Center for Arts in Bali, and have differing ethnical backgrounds. Specialists including Indonesian historian Prof. Dr. Fachruddin Ambo Enre also made a careful study of the texts and the cultural context of I La Galigo.

Indonesia knows little of its cultural traditions outside of Java and Bali. This is one of the reasons why the Prince Claus fund is supporting the performances in Indonesia and on Sulawesi at the end of 2004.