The Indonesian Australian Students Association (PPIA) Victoria’s annual stage production Temulawak returns to stage this year as one of the organization’s main events. As the first Temulawak performance to be held offline after two years, the production was held at National Theatre St. Kilda on Saturday (24/9/2022) afternoon.
In conjunction with the feeling of yearning that may have been developed during the pandemic, this year’s rendition of Temulawak went with the title Mulang Ka Asal, with strong themes of returning to one’s place of origin and reuniting with close relatives.
“We chose the title Mulang Ka Asal because there might be our friends out there being quarantined for a long time without going back home, and then there are also our friends that have just arrived here,” explained Xaviera Quincy, who served as the scriptwriter for this year’s Temulawak. “So we would like to help our friends here to remember their home while at the same time reminding those that just came here to not forget where they came from.”
Mulang Ka Asal tells the story of Astri (Kayleigh Ardaneswari), the owner of a local makeup salon, facing the decision to return to her home village to replace her sister Asih (Namira Zahra) as the village’s elder. The news of Astri’s upcoming departure causes a feeling of uncertainty to her surrounding community; from her loyal customers, her neighbor the mechanic Joko (Arnett Grady), her real estate agent friend Meiling (Jessica Quan), all the way to Ijah (Michelle Lay), one of her salon assistants.
Regarding the relationship between Astri and Ijah, Michelle Lay explained the two being practically inseparable. “Astri is very close to Ijah, and because she [Astri] does not have a child, Ijah was like her own daughter,” said Michelle. “Their connection is remarkably strong. Me and Kayleigh would do our own rehearsals so that we appear to be very close to one another.”
During the production’s runtime, Mulang Ka Asal did not just feature dance, acting, and singing sequences from its cast members, but also spontaneous cheeky interactions with members of the audience. Coupled with strong chemistry within the cast alongside smart and witty writing, these interactions truly elevated Mulang Ka Asal as an impressively entertaining production. The improvisations done by the cast members would often draw intense laughter from the audience.
The preparation for the stage production took approximately seven months, starting with casting in February. Some aspects of Temulawak’s preparation underwent changes, from script rewrites to number of weekly rehearsals. “We went from 2-3 rehearsals a week to 4-5 rehearsals,” said Quincy. She also mentioned sizeable contributions from Temulawak’s divisions, from marketing to sponsorship.
Judging from the acclaim received from the audience, it was apparent that the seven-month preparation for Temulawak paid off in the end. The committee behind the production looked to be enjoying the performance as much as the audience, from the cast members to the musicians. This should go without saying, but here’s hoping Temulawak can entertain Victorians next year!
Teks: Jason Ngagianto