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Wigs Out of a Comic Strip Scenery

Updated: Apr 28

The first thing I see when I come back into the offices and studio of Mr. Didik in the afternoon is Mr. Agus working on a strange head garment. The colorful shinny stars looked like a Christmas tree from a distance. When Mr. Didik passed by on the way from his office to the studio, he stopped, took a look at it, tried it on and made all these funny faces while swinging the dangling stars on the metal wire shaped as a spiral. All of a sudden its meaning became clear. It seemed like Mr. Didik had just come out of a cartoon strip. You know, all those stars that appear above the head of the character after being hit by some hard falling object. We all burst into laughter. Mr. Didik had invited me to come after my dance class in order to follow the final process of his last creation. Although it’s only a week before the premiere, that doesn’t really stop him from applying important changes into the structure of the piece. The changes were meant to create more interaction between the performer and the video. When I asked him if the reason for that was to make the plot of the story clearer to the audience, as if not really paying attention to my question, Mr. Didik said: “It will make it more interesting”. The apparent relaxed atmosphere doesn’t really lead any new comer into the scene to believe that Mr. Didik also has to make the last arrangements for his trip to Mexico the following morning. But the concentration doesn’t prevent anyone from having a laugh every so often. In our case, very often. Then a package arrives by post from Bali with this huge shamanic headdress made from horse’s hair. Mr. Didik tries it on, dances with it and examines carefully how it works with the mask from one of the scenes from the performance. He gives it back to Mr. Agus while dropping some instructions and goes back to roam peacefully from room to room making sure all will be ready for the shootings till he finally sits down in his office and starts the process of transformation into the piece’s character. It’s time for the make up tour de force. Meanwhile, Mr. Hardy applies the last minute changes to the costume, Mr. Hendrid goes over and over the sound queues, Mr. Yuan prepares the cameras, etc. At some point Mr.Didik introduces me to one his friends who has come especially for these shootings and who is a master in Traditional Indonesian Puppet Theater. I can’t help but being fascinated by the dexterity with which he brings the two-dimensional as well as the three-dimensional dolls into life. It hurts to realize that they dance the traditional dance better than I do. The easy going yet full of concentration atmosphere follows into the shootings at the studio upstairs. Elements from traditional culture come into place in order to serve Mr. Didik’s own choreography which here once again becomes embedded with humor from symbols derived from general wisdom. Mr. Didik’s ideas for the changes slowly become clear to me but I’m still very curious about how they’ll work with the dance and acting scenes that we saw last week during the dress rehearsal. I’ll have to wait for his return from his Mexico tour though. When I left the studio late in the evening, Mr. Didik and his employees were about to finish packing the costumes and props for the Mexico tour. But that didn’t prevent him from listening carefully to his friend’s views on the new costume that had arrived from Bali. Mr. Didik had already realized how overpowering the head dress would have turned out to be for the performance. Therefore, he revealed a drawing of a new design partially inspired by elements from the shamanic wig applied to the one he used last week during rehearsal. He might be away for a week but work continues to flow here at his headquarters in Yogyakarta.

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