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Resistance on the National Stage

Theater and Politics in Late New Order Indonesia (Ohio RIS Southeast Asia Series #123)

Michael H. Bodden


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Resistance on the National Stage analyzes the ways in which, between 1985 and 1998, modern theater practitioners in Indonesia contributed to a rising movement of social protest against the long-governing New Order regime of President Suharto. It examines the work of an array of theater groups and networks from Jakarta, Bandung, and Yogyakarta that pioneered new forms of theater-making and new themes that were often presented more directly and critically than previous groups had dared to do.

Michael H. Bodden looks at a wide range of case studies to show how theater contributed to and helped build the opposition. He also looks at how specific combinations of social groups created tensions and gave modern theater a special role in bridging social gaps and creating social networks that expanded the reach of the prodemocracy movement. Theater workers constructed new social networks by involving peasants, Muslim youth, industrial workers, and lower-middle-class slum dwellers in theater productions about their own lives. Such networking and resistance established theater as one significant arena in which the groundwork for the ouster of Suharto in May 1998, and the succeeding Reform era, was laid.

Resistance on the National Stage will have broad appeal, not only for scholars of contemporary Indonesian culture and theater, but also for those interested in Indonesian history and politics, as well as scholars of postcolonial theater and culture.


Praise For Resistance on the National Stage: Theater and Politics in Late New Order Indonesia (Ohio RIS Southeast Asia Series #123)

“The scholarship of the manuscript is impressive, and the research thorough, painstaking and up to date. Its original contribution lies in the detailed, perceptive discussion of theatre activities and performances, linked with sophisticated, highly-informed analysis of contemporaneous political structures, events and currents of thought. The breadth of sources drawn on for such analysis, including many newspaper reports and reviews as well as play-scripts, unpublished papers and interviews, is a major strength of the study.”
— Barbara Hatley, author of Javanese Performances on an Indonesian Stage

“Featuring many illustrations of works in performance, this book will appeal to anyone interested in Indonesian history and politics, or in postcolonial theater and culture.”
— Book News

Ohio University Press, 9780896802759, 352pp.

Publication Date: November 2, 2010

About the Author

Michael H. Bodden is an associate professor of Pacific and Asian Studies at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. He has published numerous articles on contemporary Indonesian theater and literature, as well as a collection of translations of the fiction, the essays, and a drama by Indonesian writer Seno Gumira Ajidarma, Jakarta at a Certain Point in Time.