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May 17, 2024

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May 16, 2024

Nano Riantiarno


Nobertus Riantiarno (better known as Nano Riantiarno or N. Riantiarno; is an actor, director, and playwright. Beginning his acting while in high school, he studied under Teguh Karya, acting in several movies and plays, until eventually establishing his own theatre troupe, Teater Koma, in 1977. His works, with their highly political messages, were often censored by Suharto’s New Order government. In 1998 he won the SEA Write Award for his play Semar Gugat.

While working with Karya, Riantiarno performed in several plays and films. His credits with Teater Popular include Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, Karel Čapek’s The White Disease, and his own Doa Natal (Christmas Prayer). Riantiarno also acted in several of Karya’s films, including Cinta Pertama (First Love) and Kawin Lari (Elope). In 1971, he began studying at the Driarkara School of Philosophy, and in 1975 left Teater Populer to travel throughout the archipelago and see various forms of traditional Indonesian theatre and other forms of folk art, including wayang and ketoprak.

Finishing his travels, Riantiarno founded Teater Koma on 1 March 1977, with Rumah Kertas (Paper House) being its first production. The title of the troupe was drawn from Riantiarno’s belief that “theater is a journey without periods but filled with commas”. After taking a six-month hiatus to study at the International Writing Program in Iowa City, Iowa, in 1978, his troupe produced the well-received Maaf, Maaf, Maaf (Sorry, Sorry, Sorry). Another play, JJ, followed in 1979.

During this period, the New Order government banned plays with “dissident” themes, often picking playwrights and writers deemed potential dissidents up for questioning arbitrarily. Riantiarno himself experienced repression several times, with his 1985 play Opera Kecoa (Cockroach Opera, depicting prostitutes, transsexuals, and corrupt officials) causing all of his subsequent plays to require explicit permission from the government before being performed.

Another of his plays, 1988’s Sampek Engtay (based on the Chinese legend Butterfly Lovers), ran afoul of the New Order’s discriminatory practices. Due to numerous pieces of legislation limiting Chinese Indonesian culture, the use of Chinese symbols was forbidden, as was the traditional barongsai (lion dance). Two years later Riantiarno was interrogated in response to his play Suksesi (Succession), which touched on themes of nepotism. In 1995, Riantiarno wrote Semar Gugat (Semar Accuses), using characters, such as Semar, from Javanese wayang. He received a SEA Write Award in 1998 for the work.1

  1. Wikipedia 


Cermin Merah
426 page(s), Grasindo

In the Headlines

Teater Koma cofounder N. Riantiarno dies

Jakarta Post / What Media Says
Jan 20, 2023


Jakarta Post / As Seen On
Oct 27, 2013

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