First residential workshop: Bandar Teater Jakarta and Co-coism

We were honoured that our first residential workshop, held over three weekends in July 2018, was with Indonesia’s top experimental theatre group, Bandar Teater Jakarta.

Bandar’s approach stems from a fusion of traditional and contemporary influences, which isn’t saying much, but the way they walk the fine line between action and inaction, depth and surface, is extraordinary. Bandar are supreme poets. They take risks not just with words but with concepts, bodies and locations, in an understated but deeply expressive fashion that eludes description. Their rare performances – usually only one – are consistently surprising, delightful, intriguing, emotional, political. Yet never kasar or coarse. Sanggar O is truly proud to be associated with such artistry.

We were also honoured by the presence of the remarkable members of Co-coism from Taiwan, who were conducting research after working and performing in Pontianak, West Kalimantan. During the discussions, exercises and presentations with Co-coism we were deeply impressed with their experience, intelligence, curiosity and respect. We hope that the relationship will grow and lead to more collaboration in the future.

(Co-coism’s videographer, Yung-Chen Hsieh (left front in the pic below), went on a tour of the rural area of which the sanggar is a part on the back of the sanggar’s motorbike. Click here to see the result. If you would like to contact him, please do on

Members of the Teater Bandar Jakarta worskshop and Co-coism observers
Participants of the workshop: Bandar Teater Jakarta, new recruits, Co-coism

The workshop weekends led to a one-off performance, called Jelly Fish, in the swimming pool of the North Jakarta Youth Centre. Sanggar O’s little pool was put to good use in preparation for the much larger plunge.

Jelly Fish spanduk
The Jelly Fish banner outside the venue

The performance was part of a series of explorations on the subject of ‘laut’ or ‘sea’. Jelly Fish took a particular focus on people seeking refuge via the sea. The actors, mingling amongst the audience who surrounded the pool, expressed no emotion yet the overall effect was of intense emotion as swimmers thrashed to the end of the pool, dragged themselves ashore, were returned to the water, subjected to simulated drowning, abandoned, ‘helped’ arbitrarily by someone relaxed on a pool toy pouring undrinkable water into their mouths, subjected to attack by actors and audience alike as if in fun, while a small child, in the children’s pool, occasionally cried out, ‘help!’.

Part of the stage
The ‘jelly fish’ who made it ashore, assailed by missiles from cast and audience

Sanggar O would like to express our respect to, and appreciation of, the City of North Jakarta and the Ministry of Education and Culture for their support of the rehearsals and performance.





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