Ketoprak Retno Dumilah: a successful play for the youngsters


Jakarta, IO – Ketoprak Tari Retno Dumilah, a traditional Javanese musical play, was performed before their audience on Sunday, August 27, 2023, at Taman Ismail Marzuki Park, Central Jakarta. The play encapsulated the struggle of Ratna Dumilah to lead the troops to defend the Purabaya Duchy, now known as Madiun, from being invaded by Mataram under the leadership of Panembahan Senopati. 

The play was successful in entertaining the audience and was highly appreciated by the audience. Proceeding smoothly between serious and funny scenes, dances, dialogues and jokes, making Retno Dumilah’s play a refreshment in stage performance. Not to mention the creative presentation that elicited strong emotions from the audience, as the story involved the history of a woman’s struggle. 

The enchanting performance was the result of the diligent hard work of Sanggar Gending Enem, Sixerhood (6 High School Jakarta Alumni Association) and Yasma 6 (6 High School Jakarta Alumni Foundation) to contribute to the art and cultural activists in an effort to preserve Indonesian culture, particularly the classical Javanese dance. 

Collaborating with Wayang Orang Bharata, Retno Dumilah’s performance was supported by around 150 dancers and musicians, including dance enthusiasts and professional dancers, celebrities Maudy Koesnaedi, Ira Wibowo, Dewi Gita, Metta Ariesta, Chitra Nartomo, Prof. Hikmahanto Juwana, S.H., LL.M., Ph.D., Prof. Dr. Achsanul Qosasi and numerous elementary, middle, and high school students in DKI Jakarta. 

Senior actress Ira Wibowo stated that she was delighted to take part in Retno Dumilah’s play. “The story revolves around women and the significant female roles within society. As the daughter of the Duke of Madiun, Retno Dumilah was not afraid to defend her homeland,” said Ira. 

Ira, who played the Empress of Panembahan Senopati, was also moved since her father, a former Javanese dancer and singer, was there to watch and support his beloved daughter do traditional Javanese dance. 

Maudy Koesnadi was pleased to see many teenagers come to watch. The ketoprak play was performed using the language of Indonesian young people, igniting their interest in stage art. “I hope our teenagers can channel their artistic passion into traditional dances and other traditional forms of art. This play transcends the message of collaboration,” said Maudy. 

Aliyah, one of the dancers who is only 14 years old, meets Maudy’s expectations. Aliyah has been participating in traditional dance performances at UNESCO’s CID (Conseil International de La Dance) in Paris, France. According to Aaliyah, learning the traditional dance and studying history are only a few ways of protecting the culture and heritage of our nation. 

Prof. Hikmahanto Juwana, General Chairperson of Sixerhood for the term 2022-2025, highlighted the major role of preserving culture as a means to strengthen national identity and character. “We wish to positively influence the younger generation, who are both involved in the play and the audience,” said the Professor of International Law at the University of Indonesia, who played as the Duke of Suroboyo. 

His fellow academic, Prof. Achsanul Qosasi, said that the Retno Dumilah play sent a message of peace for the nation. “This performance teaches a lesson in democracy, as the performers consist of multiple generations and different professions with one aim: to preserve culture,” stated the professor. 

Professor Qosasi expressed his excitement about playing the role of Duke of Sampang. The honorary professor at Airlangga University in Surabaya, who is also one of the chiefs of the State Audit Board (BPK), has succeeded in getting the audience to laugh with his fresh jokes. 

The play, involving multigenerational stage performers, also featured the youngest dancer, Dimas, who is only ten years old. “This is the best play I have participated in since I played Wayang when I was four years old. I am here to play the role of Sunan Kalijaga’s son,” he said. 

Singer Dewi Gita, who played the character Nyai Adipati Madiun, expressed how challenging it was for her, as a person of Sundanese descent, to sing Javanese songs. In the middle of her busy schedule, she still allowed herself time to seriously practice singing the Javanese songs to perform her best despite the cultural differences. 

Metta Ariesta performed Retno Dumilah brilliantly and wholeheartedly. “This is the third time for me to be cast as a heroine. As Retno Dumilah, the Srikandi (female warrior) of Madiun, the dance was slightly different, which was more similar to silat. Something new for me, definitely a challenge!” expressed Metta. 

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“I am very honored to contribute to the cultural preservation, particularly the Javanese culture, as I am myself Javanese. Retno Dumilah inspires women to stay strong, teach women to have a leadership spirit, and understand gender equality. More young people are expected to be involved in preserving the traditional dance,” said Metta. 

In his speech at the opening of the event, Hendro Prastowo, who acted as the Panembahan Senopati as well as the Chairman of the Retno Dumilah Performance Committee, expressed his gratitude for the audience’s interest and enthusiasm. “Through art, we can hone our creativity and sensitivity, appreciate art better, and take care of and preserve our cultural arts as they are our valuable heritage,” he concluded. (des/ast)