Payung Hitam puts on co-production with The Lunatics

February 2005 -

To mark the 10 th anniversary of the setting-up of the Hivos Culture Fund, the Indonesian theatre company Payung Hitam is coming to the Netherlands in June to put on a production with the Dutch Lunatics that was produced up in Indonesia in May. Artistic director Rachman Sabur was in the Netherlands for a few days to prepare the production.


'Every year we put on two or three shows, each of which we perform about five times. What we do, which is physical, visual theatre that doesn't use the written word, is closely related to the works of such Dutch groups as The Lunatics and Dogtroep. However, the major difference is of course that although we do see ourselves as professionals, we all have paid jobs alongside our theatre work.'

Indonesia does not have a very widespread or flourishing theatrical culture. Subsidies are very thin on the ground and are mainly handed out to traditional art forms. 'It's a difficult situation in Indonesia. There aren't many groups like ours. I may have been doing this for twenty years now, but most companies that put on non-traditional shows find that they have to throw in the towel after a couple of years.'

Payung Hitam has performed abroad on several occasions, in Japan, Germany and Australia. 'We now have plans to go to America, but are dependent on invitations from organisers who can arrange the necessary funding. We just create the shows and fund them with ticket sales and sometimes a little sponsorship money, and that's quite complicated enough for us.'

The collaboration with The Lunatics originally came about because of the contact between Hivos and Kelola, a Hivos partner involved in the professionalisation of artistic endeavours in Indonesia. Sabur feels honoured by the invitation and believes that this collaboration will be very beneficial. 'We're going to talk to the organisers of the Dutch Oerol festival to see if our show can be put on there too. If this works out, then who knows? It may open other doors for us too.'