Rendra speaks

What Media Says


About Rendra, W. S.,
Written by Suzan Piper, and was originally published in Inside Indonesia,
Jul 15, 2007


Indonesian master poet, dramatist, and cultural statesman Rendra toured Australia during September and October 2005. It was his first visit to Australia since 1992. Much has changed since then in the two countries: in Indonesia the New Order has fallen under the pressure of reformasi; in Australia the Labor Party has lost office to the Liberals under John Howard. Bilateral relations have suffered from the impact of Australia’s perceived role in East Timor, terrorism and continued travel warnings, Schapelle Corby and the Bali Nine, and the Bali bombings. The second attack occurred one week into ­Rendra’s poetry tour.

Rendra was accompanied by his wife Ken Zuraida, who read poems with Rendra, and Sawung Jabo, who played gamelan percussion to some of the poems. They performed in Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane. The poems dated from 1957 to 2003, and included old favourites such as Tokek dan Adipati Rangkas Bitung (The Gecko and the Rangkas Bitung District Head) and new ones highlighting the impact of state indifference and violence against women, such as Jangan Takut Ibu(Don’t Be Scared Mother). Rendra also spoke to packed Indonesia study groups on the evolution of ­Indonesia’s future and of Indonesia’s perceptions of Australia, and drama students were drawn to his drama workshop in Sydney. Suzan Piper interviewed Rendra towards the end of his tour.

Read the full article here.