GODS ON STAGE

I belonged to a generation that preferred to stay behind the scene of a production. The very thought of facing an audience was nerve-wracking and intimidating. However, the generation of students at Global Prestasi School (GPS) take to the limelight like fish to water. There are still the shy students of the International Program (IP) who, like me, adamantly remain behind the curtains, but majority are very much at home strutting their stuff on stage. There is still the usual cajoling – bordering on threatening – for some to take the roles, but convincing isn’t that difficult. Peer pressure usually does the trick and the reluctance eventually turns into commitment to the roles.

The stage before opening night of "Of Gods and Mortals"

The stage before opening night of “Of Gods and Mortals” (photo by Sarah Huinda)

This year’s IP production was titled “Of Gods and Mortals”, a concept that was ruminated upon by the old theatre team and brought to life by this year’s re-energized crew. The point was to veer away from the commonplace variety show format of song-and-dance built against a flimsy storyline. Literature primarily mythology and epic became the anchor points of the scripts that the IP students worked on with a little help from the IP-English teachers who laid out the structure. Thus “Of Gods and Mortals was born: Looking at the past, before the supremacy of science, there was a distinct line between the gods and mortals. Life was simple: the deities did not tolerate the insubordination of people thus repercussions were expected, which were swift, with any act of defiance. In one of the most well-known mythologies, Greek mythology, the Olympians walked the Earth as humans and behaved like humans. They were petulant, narcissistic, irascible – name all the feelings of humans and the Greek deities exhibited them – and yet they demanded complete fealty. However, they weren’t exactly benevolent or reciprocal in their dealings with the mortals that they greatly pressed loyalty from. Similarly, in Egyptian mythology, the gods and goddesses assumed human form, walked the earth, and ruled ancient Egypt – as pharaoh – with the same tenacity as the Greeks. Analogously, the Hindu epic Ramayana, which has been adapted by Indonesia, the lives of deities and mortals were entwined in a saga of human values, war, defiance, brief reconciliation, and knowing one’s place. Meanwhile, the mortals tried to live as piously as they could amidst the vicissitudes of life. Their end goal was to lead peaceful lives vis-a-vis the omnipresent deities who had no qualms in wreaking havoc at the slightest whim. They knew their place in the hierarchy of life and abided by the dharma or divine rule.

Dress rehearsal: Isis telling Osiris her plan to dethrone Ra. (photo by Theresia Sabono)

Dress rehearsal: Isis telling Osiris her plan to dethrone Ra. (photo by Theresia Sabono)

December 12 was premiere night and Global Hall was filled to the rafters. Interest was stoked and curiosity piqued when the posters and banners started surfacing in and out of school weeks before the play date. The BBM group of the parents of the elementary students fuelled the fire of interest greatly with their incessant texting about the tickets – “Have you gotten your ticket?”, “Are you buying platinum (Rp200, 000) ticket?” – and suddenly tickets were selling like hot cakes. Tension, commingled with excitement, was mounting as premiere night drew near. Nerves were getting frayed as last-minute efforts were made to ensure everything was working – microphones, lights, sounds, and projector – and in place like the pillars on stage, the banner across the stage, and props within easy grasp of the actors. Then only a few hours were left before show time.

A scene from Parade of Gods and Goddesses - Isis and Osiris plotting against Ra

A scene from Parade of Gods and Goddesses – Isis and Osiris plotting against Ra

Sinuhe (foreground) does a fight dance in The Adventures of Sinuhe

Sinuhe (foreground) does a fight dance in The Adventures of Sinuhe

Showtime was exactly at 6pm much to the surprise of some of the audience. Unknown to or ignored by others, an IP production always starts on time. The mandatory prayer was delivered by grade 7A student, Hanna, which segued into the national anthem sang by sixth grader singing sensation Morei accompanied by the elementary violin ensemble. The hosts, Raine and Gisele, both from 7A, kept the crowd abreast of what was happening on stage aside from serenading them, together with Hanna, with a song from “Le Misérables”. And then “Of Gods and Mortals” premiered, opening first with Of Gods and Mortals and ancient Egyptian mythology and tales The Parade of Gods and Goddesses by grade 9A followed by The Adventures of Sinuhe by grade 8B.

The national anthem led by Morei, singing sensation from GPS Elementary, with the violin ensemble

The national anthem led by Morei, singing sensation from GPS Elementary, with the violin ensemble

Hosts Raine (left) and Gisele (far right) sing with their friend, Hanna

Hosts Raine (left) and Gisele (far right) sing with their friend, Hanna

The saman dance group of junior high take to the stage

The saman dance group of junior high take to the stage

Prior to the second act, choral speaking (or reading), was inaugurated in GPS. Picture a group of students on stage looking like a choir but they’re not going to sing. They are going to recite and act out literary pieces such as grade 8B’s performance of The Adventures of Sinuhe. The audience saw more of the choral speaking from grades 4 and 5 IP students. Naturally, singing, like playing badminton like a pro, is in the genes of Indonesians, so grade 8 students Karis, Lukas, and Khansa took to the stage with a song from Radiohead after.

Act 2 showcased Lord Ram and Hanuman from the Hindu epic Ramayana played by the elementary IP students followed by Greek mythology – Olympians vs. Mortals by grade 7A and Pandora and Ilk by grade 8A.

It's the elementary students' turn to shine in "Lord Ram and Hanuman".

It’s the elementary students’ turn to shine in “Lord Ram and Hanuman”.

A battle ensues between the Olympians and mortals in "Olympians vs Mortals"

A battle ensues between the Olympians and mortals in “Olympians vs Mortals”

The cast of "Pandora and Ilk" go through the final scene of their performance

The cast of “Pandora and Ilk” go through the final scene of their performance

“Of Gods and Mortals” ended three hours later to a rousing curtain call with everyone, actors, crew, and audience, moving to “Twerk it like Miley” (a unanimous choice by the students), and hamming it up for the numerous cameras flashing left, right, centre, and above.

Time for the final bow for "Of Gods and Mortals"

Time for the final bow for “Of Gods and Mortals”

A photo op for the IP team with the Director of GPS, Pak Widodo (in batik shirt)

A photo op for the IP team with the Director of GPS, Pak Widodo (in batik shirt)

(Photography by Samuel Jeruel | Additional photos by Theresia Sabono and Sarah Huinda)

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