Padusi, a drama and dance performance telling the powerful story of three women from the Minangkabau people in West Sumatra will be presented on the stage on May 11 and 12 at Jakarta’s cultural center, Taman Ismail Marzuki.
Padusi means woman in the Minang language, which is spoken in West Sumatra.
The 90-minute long performance, sponsored by the Bakti Budaya Djarum Foundation, features prominent names such as Ine Febrianti, Jajang C. Noer and Niniek L. Karim.
Puti Bungsu is the name of one of the characters in the story. She who is not one of earth’s creatures descended to the ground in order to bathe in a blue lake. Suddenly a man took away her wings, causing her to be trapped in an unhappy mortal marriage.
Nevertheless, Puti has been trying to make her way back to heaven ever since.
Another character in the story is Siti Jamilan, who made a promise to kill herself along with her child if her husband ever married another woman.
Meanwhile, Sabai nan Aluih, demands justice after refusing to wed a older man practicing polygamy-the same man, in fact, who murdered her father because of debt problems.
Padusi was written by film producer, director and screenwriter Nia Dinata, whose films as director include Ca Bau Kan in 2002, the Arisan! films in 2002 and 2011, and Love for Share in 2006.
"Nowadays people judge women so easily, even though they have no idea of what has been going on in their lives,” Nia told a press conference on Wednesday, in Jakarta. “This story is ta story from a non-judgmental point of view.”
Nia, who is of Minang descent, said that she felt a personal connection to the story. This is not her first time writing scripts that were related to women’s issues.
Dance maestro Tom Ibnur choreographed the performance, which includes elements of Indonesian martial art pencak silat.
"My own mother was always hurt by my polygamist father who later left to marry another woman," he recalled.
One of the highlighted dances in the show is tarian kematian or the dance of death, where Siti Jamilan decides to kill herself.
"I studied this traditional dance in a village in Payakumbuh [West Sumatra] back in 1983. It’s about a deceased datuk whose body levitated and was unable to touch the ground until it was buried. I was banned from the village because I tried to bring it back again, which was considered against Islam at the time. But now they have realized that it's a culture that has to be preserved," Tom said.
The show's dramatic music and scene will increase the mystical aura of the dance, he added.
Ticket prices for the performance range from Rp 250,000 to Rp 1,000,000.