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Janji Soekma: Langgam Gambang Kehidupan: rescuing Betawi culture through art performance


Jakarta, IO – Jakarta’s Abang None Theater, in collaboration with the Bakti Budaya Djarum Foundation, is going to present Janji Soekma: Langgam Gambang Kehidupan, an extended version of the Soekma Djaja story performance (2013), which will be performed at the Jakarta Arts Building, or Gedung Kesenian Jakarta, on October 6, 7, and 8, 2023, at 2 and 7 p.m. 

According to Billy Gamaliel, Program Manager of the Bakti Budaya Djarum Foundation, the Jakarta Abang None Theater has put great effort into expanding and conserving Indonesian culture, and particularly Betawi culture, in the form of performing arts, over the past 14 years. “This time, the ensemble of artists founded by Maudy Koesnaedi will present the sequel to the Soekma Djaja story, which was staged for art enthusiasts a decade ago. We wish to highlight the unique Gambang Kromong as not only a part of entertainment but provide insight for art lovers,” said Billy. 

Maudy Koesnaedi, the producer and concept writer of Janji Soekma: Langgam Gambang Kehidupan, mentioned the reason for choosing the show. “The Abang None Jakarta Theater was founded based on a soul promise I made to myself on the final night of the Abang None Jakarta contest 30 years ago, in 1993, to preserve and promote Betawi culture to the public, which triumphantly resulted in this show. This performance brings back great memories for all of us, the members of Jakarta Abang None Theater, about the processes, efforts, and hardships we went through to deliver the best performance. We sincerely hope this performance can foster a love for Betawi culture,” she stated. 

Janji Soekma: Langgam Gambang Kehidupan, or the sequel to Soekma Djaja, which debuted at the Jakarta Arts Building in 2013, tells the story of Lia, the youngest generation in the Soekma Djaja artist family, who struggles to fulfill a promise made to her late adoptive father, Maman Djaja, to live up to Soekma Djaja’s legacy: Gambang Kromong. Lia’s plans and strategy are held back as one of the staff members is trapped in bad online debt. Lia must choose between keeping the Gambang Kromong or selling it for the sake of everyone’s safety. 

“The show aims to showcase and bring the traditional Betawi ensemble, Gambang Kromong, to life. The story also suggests how young artists, who care deeply about culture, should fight and make sacrifices to conserve the culture after the pandemic, as depicted in Lia’s struggle to fulfill her promises. Lia uses her ingenuity to learn about, appreciate, and preserve Betawi culture. We hope that this performance can open the eyes of art enthusiasts to how art workers struggled after the pandemic,” said Wawan Sofwan, the director. 

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Both Janji Soekma’s main cast members, Fitria Aprilia as Lia and Luthfi Adriansyah as Daus, are the main characters who were also involved in “Soekma Djaja”. Janji Soekma will also present Vidan Marthensz as Boy. The performance will involve more than 70 Abang and None Jakarta contestants from across Jakarta’s regions, who will enliven the show with typical Betawi honest and blunt jokes, making the show a very much Betawi culture-influenced performance. The performance will also feature the original and authentic Gambang Kromong musicians, directed by Iman Firmansyah. 

“The Abang None Jakarta Theater serves as a platform for us, Abang and None Jakarta members, to preserve Betawi culture in the performing arts. I’m delighted to once again take on the role of Lia before all art enthusiasts and friends who are members of the Abang None Jakarta Theater. I hope they love our performance,” Fitria Aprilia ended. (des/ast)


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