Iswadi Pratama, an auteur of Indonesian theatre

Iswadi Pratama, an auteur of Indonesian theatre by Caranissa Djatmiko, 12/04/2017, Inside Indonesia

Indonesia’s foremost theatre director, the internationally acclaimed Iswadi Pratama, staged an extraordinary eight productions in 2016.

There is no simple way of describing Iswadi Pratama. He claims to be a self-taught artist, yet his exceptional talents seem to suggest otherwise. Having spent most of his life bringing realities to the stage he insists that he only has the books he reads (stacked quite untidily at his private library) and the mentors who have guided him in the past to thank. Yet, after staging eight ambitious productions in 2016, it would be hard to dispute the fact that he has revolutionised Indonesian theatre.

The 45-year old poet and theatre director always knew that art was his true calling. He considers it to be the only space where he can express himself unapologetically, while also being a vehicle for helping others. ‘Everything that I do is motivated by an awareness that art must make people find their turning points in life,’ he says. ‘So I always choose projects based on [various] priorities: to what extent do the people involved in a certain program require my ability and capacity, and the relevance of it to my creative work and my vision regarding social transformation.’

Pratama’s plays have been showcased around the globe. His play Nostalgia di Sebuah Kota (Nostalgia in a City) was translated and performed in Germany in 2010. He has worked with some of the best artists in the world including American director Julie Taymor (Frida, The Lion King stage musical) who mentored Pratama when he became the first Indonesian to be a part of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative.

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