Operet Aku Anak Rusun Explores Tolerance in Latest Performance

The cast of ‘Operet Anak Rusun 2: Selendang Arimbi’ showcases a snippet of their play. ‘Selendang Arimbi’ will premiere on Nov. 16 at Ciputra Artpreneur Theater in South Jakarta. (JP/Narabeto Korohama)
Musical drama project Operet Aku Anak Rusun will present its latest performance, Selendang Arimbi (Arimbi’s Scarf), at Ciputra Artpreneur Theater in South Jakarta on Nov. 16.

The drama is about tolerance and solidarity.

Established in 2017, Operet Aku Anak Rusun consistently highlights stories about children living in low-cost apartments (Rusun), and in doing so it is staying true to its name, which translates roughly as “Rusun Kid Operetta”.
In its debut drama, Ada Gulali di Hatiku (Cotton Candy in My Heart), the troupe collaborated with children from five Rusun in Jakarta. Musician community Soundkestra and social foundation Yayasan Waroeng Imaji were also involved in the project.

Producer and artistic director Dovieke Angsana (left), president director of Ciputra Artpreneur Rina Ciputra (second left), Yayasan Waroeng Imaji founder Veronica Tan (second right) and scriptwriter Vanda Parengkuan (right) pose during a press conference at Ciputra Artpreneur in South Jakarta on Wednesday. (JP/Narabeto Korohama)

Selendang Arimbi follows the story of Arimbi, who lives in a low-cost apartment with her mother, a seller of handmade scarves. “Arimbi wants to be a dancer, and she has the talent for it. She receives a scholarship to learn at a prominent dance studio but faces challenges along the way,” said scriptwriter Vanda Parengkuan during a press conference in South Jakarta on Wednesday. “The scarf symbolizes her spirit. She stays strong in the face of adversity.”

For Selendang Arimbi, Operet Aku Anak Rusun teams up with children from the low-cost apartments Rawa Bebek and Pulo Gebang in East Jakarta as well as Daan Mogot in West Jakarta. Twelve children passed the casting process and were selected for main roles, while 130 children were selected as dancers and 40 children as singers.

Dovieke “Dodo” Angsana, the play’s producer and stage director, said in this year’s casting, they evaluated the children’s ability to sing, act and dance. He added that, two years ago, the process was different, as they would only assess the children’s singing skills.

Selendang Arimbi is said to contain 20 Indonesian songs, including traditional and children’s songs, such as “Janger”, “Anak Kambing Saya” (My Little Lamb) and “Semut-semut Kecil” (Little Ants). All songs will feature new and modern arrangements by Soundkestra. “[The music] arrangement is the biggest challenge because, as a producer and art director, I have to think about the target market. This performance has a wide market; it’s neither specifically for children nor adults,” said Dodo.

Veronica Tan, founder of Yayasan Waroeng Imaji, said the musical drama project aimed to develop the children’s talent in music and performing arts while at the same time teaching them about character building outside of school. The project is also an opportunity for them to showcase their talent to boost their confidence.

Tickets for Selendang Arimbi are available online with prices starting from Rp 350,000 (US$25). (wng)

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