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BWW Previews: Thespians and Filmmakers Join Forces in #MUSIKALDIRUMAHAJA Series by INDONESIA KAYA

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According to the press conference held on Thursday (7/16) and the accompanying press release, #MusikalDiRumahAja will be the latest offering in Indonesiakaya.com's #DiRumahAja program, a series of art and entertainment videos for those currently cooped at home.

BWW Previews: Thespians and Filmmakers Join Forces in #MUSIKALDIRUMAHAJA Series by INDONESIA KAYA

#MusikalDiRumahAja will take Indonesian folklore and fairytales and update them into a musical web series with a touch of modern twist. Each standalone episode (ranging from 14 to 18 minutes in duration) is spearheaded by a different creative team working with a different cast of actors, with many of the musical talents hailing from last year's Indonesia Menuju Broadway training program.

The series is unique in the way it approaches its direction. Each episode has a theatrical director and a cinematic director working together. The theater directors direct the actors and create the physical space (either in studios or on location) for them to navigate; meanwhile, the movie directors plan and execute the shots and editing.

Thus, the resulting series offer both the intimate performances of musical theater and the immaculate framing and editing of cinema.

The six episodes are as follows:

MALIN KUNDANG
Date, time: Thursday (23/7), 20.00 WIB
Theatrical Director: Rama Soeprapto
Cinematic Director: Pritagita Arianegara
Music Composer & Arranger: Dian HP
Scriptwriter: Titien Wattimena
Cast:
Nino Prabowo as Malin Kundang
Dea Panendra as Rubayah
Desmonda Cathabel as Nur
Naura as Narrator

TIMUN MAS
Date, time: Thursday (30/7), 20.00 WIB
Theatrical Director, Scriptwriter, and Librettist: Mhyajo
Cinematic Director: Bona Palma
Music Composer & Arranger: Aldhan Prasatya
Cast:
Galabby Thahira as Mbok Srini
Gerardo Tanor as Penjaga Pinjaman 756
Karina Salim as Timun Mas Besar
Lil'li Latisha as Peri Hutan "Kalathea"
Neona as Timun Mas Kecil
Palka Kojansow as Penjaga Pinjaman 777
Putri Indam Kamila as Peri Hutan "Dandelion"
Tanayu as Ratu Peri Hutan
Zack Lee as Raksasa Dunia

RARA J
Date, time: Thursday (6/8), 20.00 WIB
Theatrical Director: Chriskevin Adefrid
Theatrical Director, Choreographer, & Stage Manager: Venytha Yoshiantini
Cinematic Director: Naya Anindita
Music Composer, Arranger, & Lyricist: Ivan Tangkulung
Script Writer & Lyricst: Titien Wattimena
Cast:
Daniel Ongko as Bandung
Neala Vangelin as Rara J
Damien Errol Jonathans as Workout Influencer
Aldafi Adnan as Mukbang Influencer
Zaya Fadhlillah as Kpop Influencer
Tina Simanjuntak as Mama Rara

SANGKURIANG

Date, time: Thursday (13/8), 20.00 WIB
Theatrical Director: Maera
Theatrical Director, Choreographer, & Cinematographer: Tanta Ginting
Music Composer & Arranger: Ava Victoria & Ifa Fachir
Lyricist: Titien Wattimena & Maera
Cast:
Taufan Purbo as Sangkuriang
Kikan Namara as Dayang Sumbi
Bima Zeno as Tumang
Chandra Satria as Radjiman/Narrator

BAWANG MERAH BAWANG PUTIH
Date, time: Thursday (20/8), 20.00 WIB
Theatrical Director: Sari Madjid
Cinematic Director: Fajar Nugros
Music Composer & Arranger: Haris Pranowo
Scriptwriter: Titien Wattimena
Cast:
Sha Ine Febriyanti as Bawang Merah & Bawang Putih
Gabriel Harvianto as Ayah Bawang Putih
Netta Kusumah Dewi as Ibu Bawang Merah
Olivia Zalianty as Nenek

LUTUNG KASARUNG
Date, time: Kamis, 27 Agustus 2020, 20.00 WIB
Theatrical Director: Rusdy Rukmarata
Cinematic Director: Nia Dinata
Music Composer & Arranger: Oni Krisnerwinto
Scriptwriter: Titien Wattimena & Nia Dinata
Cast:
EKI Dance Company

The one leading and managing #MusikalDiRumahAja is Bayu Pontiagust, executive producer of Boow Live. Meanwhile, Indonesiakaya's Program Director Renitasari Adrian heads the distribution and promotion.

BWW Previews: Thespians and Filmmakers Join Forces in #MUSIKALDIRUMAHAJA Series by INDONESIA KAYA
Dea Panendra as Rubayah in Malin Kundang

During the virtual press conference, Bayu shared how the project came to be:
"Back in April, everything was being shut down. Entertainers and event organizers like me were among the ones who got it the hardest.

Everyone was stuck at home, it was even the month of Ramadan, so I was fasting. But that was the more reason that I wanted to create something. Us creatives need to stay productive, to keep our minds from getting rusty. So I thought that it would be fun to produce an online-based entertainment.

I started by contacting Titien, the writer, as we needed stories to build on. Next, I got in touch with Rama and he gathered other theater groups and people who were interested in the project. Then we could continue with the production.

Along the way, I talked with Renita so we can really take this project to the next level. And that's how we got here.

We're dedicating this project towards collecting donations for art workers still impacted by COVID-19. Everyone involved in the project is doing it pro bono. We do it because of our love for the arts. We're making a stand against the coronavirus."

Renita added that the project was groundbreaking in multiple ways.

"This is brand new. We haven't made any prior work of this nature to reference, so we had to really put our imagination to work during the planning. We're getting theater directors, movie directors, composers, and scriptwriters together. All in all, there are around 200 crew and cast members involved in the project.

This is our show of support to the creators and workers of the performing arts. We've always given our support, both offline at our venue and and online through the Indonesiakaya platform, including our #NontonTeaterDiRumahAja, #PuisiDiRumahAja, and other programs during the pandemic.

But those were mostly recordings of our previous programs. We wanted to create something new as well. And considering that the return of offline events is still a long time coming, we saw it fitting to start this project, which was mostly done online.

I hope this series will serve as motivation and inspiration for other artists."

Alongside Bayu and Renita at the press conference were Rama Soeprapto, the theatrical director for Malin Kundang; Nia Dinata, cinematic director for Lutung Kasarung; Titien Wattimena, scriptwriter for five of the musicals; Ivan Tangkulung, music composer, scorer, and arranger for Rara J.; and cast members Zack Lee (Timun Mas), Dea Panendra (Malin Kundang), and Kikan (Sangkuriang). Singer-songwriter and actress Maudy Ayunda hosted the virtual press conference.

The speakers shed light on the creative process.

Titien initially had more than six stories chosen, picking those that she was familiar with to streamline the process while also allowing some room to explore narratively. The final six stories were decided upon when the theatrical directors joined, matching them with each director's style. She also imbued the series with modern elements that are different per story; some through more contemporary dialogue, while others got more substantial adjustments to the characters.

The casting process, as told by Rama, was done by the directors, inviting actors and actresses that they considered fitting for the role. As there were both time and technical constraints, Rama considered actors that he had prior experience with, particularly Dea Panendra who he pegged for the role of Malin Kundang's mother right after he chose the story.

On working and rehearsing remotely, the speakers agreed that it presented new challenges. Both Rama and Dea noted that doing the reading and rehearsals through video chat apps made it difficult for the actors to achieve the required emotional intensity. Another obstacle was building chemistry between actors who could not share the same physical space.

As the day of the shoot arrived, Rama found that the process went relatively smoothly, crediting the actors who could quickly get to the flow of the story even on their first day. To assist with the acting for Malin Kundang, for example, Rama arranged that Dea Panendra, playing Malin Kundang's mother, would still be standing off to the side even though she was not in frame for the shot. This provision helped Nino Prabowo, Malin Kundang's actor, to retain the appropriate emotional height.

BWW Previews: Thespians and Filmmakers Join Forces in #MUSIKALDIRUMAHAJA Series by INDONESIA KAYA
Kikan Namara as Dayang Sumbi in Sangkuriang.

In addition to her work on directing the cinematography of Lutung Kasarung, Nia Dinata also took to keeping authenticity of the piece. As someone of Sundanese descent, she reviewed Lutung Kasarung's script and worked with Titien and theatrical director Rusdy Rukmatara to make certain changes.

For example, through referencing older literary works, Nia found that the word used when addressing one's father "ayahanda" in the script's draft, was not in use; she proposed "romo prabu" instead. She also made sure that the Sundanese headcloth udeng was tied correctly, among other such cultural details.

During her research, Nia also found out that she had deeper ties than she knew. The great grandfather of her grandfather, Otto Iskandar Dinata, was among the first writers to put down the tale of Lutung Kasarung onto paper.

Among the cast members, actress Dea Panendra was the one to speak first. She found it hard at first to play her role as Malin Kundang's mother, one thoroughly different from the roles she was used to. She was helped by the directors' encouragement and guidance. In the end, Dea had fun with the production.

BWW Previews: Thespians and Filmmakers Join Forces in #MUSIKALDIRUMAHAJA Series by INDONESIA KAYA
Zack Lee as Raksasa Dunia in Timun Mas.

Meanwhile, UK-born actor Zack Lee admitted that #MusikalKeRumahAja would be his first foray into theater.

"I was a bit surprised, since I've only acted in films, never plays, and especially musicals since I am not a singer. But since this is for a good cause, I said okay. And it turned out to be one of the best experiences I've ever had.

I was directed by Mia Jo and she could draw out such tremendous energy from me that I had to take a cry during the break, just being overcome by all these emotions from Raksasa Dunia's backstory.

We did it. I hope the audience will come to love it as much as we do."

Singer Kikan Namara's experience was the opposite, as she's a singer first and foremost, with her latest experience dating back to 2011. She plays Dayang Sumbi, a Sundanese folklore figure known for her beauty and eternal youth. Other than the acting, Kikan also had to learn singing in the traditional sinden style, a task she found both interesting and challenging.

On the music side, Ivan Tangkulung shared his experience.

"In this project, I did not only compose the music, but arranged it as well. For the lyrics, I collaborated with Titien. We've decided on the treatment from the start: we want it to be modern. That's why there are elements of hip hop and modern ballads in the recording. The orchestrations likewise employ modern instruments and sounds.

Since the production is not only theatrical but also cinematic, I wrote scoring for it as well. After the songs and score were finished and we did the shoot, we reviewed the footage and I had to make some adjustments to match the resulting shots better."

The musical web series #MusikalDiRumahAja can be watched starting next Thursday on Indonesiakaya's YouTube channel at 8 PM WIB, with Malin Kundang as the debut title. The shows are appropriate for families, with parental guidance advised for younger children. English subtitles and details on the donation campaign will also be available.


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