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Warmly Welcomed

Updated: Apr 28


Didik Nini Thowok as a guest artist during a Ketoprak presentation at The Atmajaya University

Being picked up by Mr. Yuan, one of Didik’s employees, at the airport of Yogyakarta was a warming welcome. During the taxi ride to the office, Mr. Yuan acquainted me with some practical matters and I had the chance to check how chaotic the traffic is here. Once at the office, I was brought lunch by one of the other employees and eventually got introduced to Didik Nini Thowok himself. Mr. Didik was as friendly as his e-mails had suggested. While I had my lunch, he confirmed that I’d be welcomed to watch a performance in which he’d be playing a part as an invited artist in the evening. He also invited me to come with him and some of his family to sleep over at his parents’ house in the village where he was born. Without having reflected upon how tired I was from the trip, I became full with excitement and took the offer. I was then led to my room, fixed a bag for the short trip and managed to get an hour of sleep before leaving for the performance.


The process of transformation into the character Mr. Didik would be playing that evening started with a first base for the make up still at his office. We then departed to the Atmajaya University where the performance would take place. The somewhat arduous and long process of transformation continued in a room filled with students that would also be playing that evening besides some other invited artists, all well known to the general public. I chose to remain in the room until the moment when Mr. Didik left to position himself behind the scenery. I got to know better of this extremely humble person that is Mr. Didik by the way he responded to my questions and related to every other person in the crowded room. All that while maintaining an incredible peace of mind filled with humor and sympathy.


By the time I got to my seat the performance had been half way through. Since it was a drama and I couldn’t follow the language, I concentrated on the body language of the performers and how they related to the audience. The performance took place on an outdoors stage and the public was spread over folding chairs and on the floor. A rather informal but nonetheless respectful atmosphere filled the air. Mr. Didik made two appearances. The first one was theatrical and humoristic but supported by an incredible body presence. The second progressed into a dance, a change from text to context that still played respect to the character Mr. Didik had built in his first appearance.


We headed towards Temanggung, Mr. Didik’s birthplace in his car filled with his relatives, including his adoptive son and three of his nieces. An hour and a half later we reached our destination but, despite the late hour, instead of going directly to bed, Mr. Didik and I were dropped in at a Warong. We had the chance to continue a friendly chat while being served fried rice by a lovely couple that immediately recognized this illustrious citizen of their town. Mr. Didik is not only well known in his hometown, but also throughout the whole country. By the time I reached the bed, that had been so carefully prepared for me, I was more than deadly tired but had a wonderful feeling of being welcomed into this beautiful country and into a promising exciting and inspiring internship.

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