(Photo doc. Gendis Utoyo/Sena Didi Mime)

With pantomime in her blood, she committed to preserving his father's legacy.

Retno Wulandari   23 April 2017 12:00

Brilio.net - People say that those we love won't go away. They walk beside us, unseen, unheard, but always near and still missed. For mime player Gendis Utoyo, daughter of artist Sena Utoyo, it isn't just a saying. She follows her father's footsteps and believes that he always there in every step. We talked to Gendis to find out more about his father's legacy, Sena Didi Mime, a 1987-established pantomime theater group founded by late artists Sena A Utoyo and Didi Petet.

Sena Didi Mime on the stage (Photo doc. Sena Didi Mime)

What are current activities of Sena Didi Mime?

We have recently released our newest performance dubbed Mati Berdiri, means "Died Standing Up", which was being performed for the first time in public in Hela Salihara Theater on March 11, 2017. Just as previous performances, Mati Berdiri will be publicly performed for the next two years, locally and internationally.

On April 6, we've performed in Nu Art Theater in Bandung, performing La Symphonie du Cemput Numero 8, a set of classical repertoires of Sena Didi Mime pantomime, which is the original work of our founders, Didi Petet and Sena Utoyo.

Currently, we're preparing for Wajah Rinduku, a performance to honor and commemorate Didi Petet's death in May 2017.

In November 2017, we will play Mati Berdiri again to measure the commitment of pantomime enthusiasts and Sena Didi Mime fans in Jakarta.

(Photo doc. Sena Didi Mime)

How is the end-to-end process of a show, started from the initial idea?

Sena Didi Mime performances used to be collaborative works. Usually, our director and teacher Yayu Unru comes up with an initial idea, be it a short sentence, a poem, or an expression of a personal restlessness. He put the card on the table, and we brainstormed to transform the initial idea into a whole story, which leads to exploring and determining scenes and gestures of the players.

Sometimes when a player did a mistake, we worked on that mistake and transform it into a new idea that can be used for the next scene. Players also played their parts in developing ideas in every performance.

Once the ideas and stories are settled, we carried on to the preparation. It usually took three to six months to prep, including the physical preps of players, logistics, practices, and further exploration of creative ideas. We work without a script, so every practice counts. Every time we practice, it was a great opportunity to dig up and explore for more creative ideas and gesture.

After Sena Utoyo and Didi Petet passed away, what challenges did Sena Didi Mime face and how to overcome it?

Indeed, the death of our founders was a great loss for us, for they used to be our teachers and role model, and now they're gone. However, even after they passed away, their spirit remains. One thing we keep in mind is, they found Sena Didi Mime and this group has grown into an important entity in the world of performing arts, so it would be shameful if we just stopped. Our spirit, love and respect to our founders give us an enormous power to carry on with their legacy. It's also very important to regenerate and discover new talents.

Sena Didi Mime in their newest performance (Photo doc. Sena Didi Mime)

Is there any message from the founders that you keep in mind?

My father and Didi Petet always said, "Remember, we have only three colors: black, white, and red." Indirectly, they tried to convey a message that we have to cultivate power, sincerity, loyalty, and courage to show our colors even if that means we have to be different. 

What moved you to be involved in Sena Didi Mime in the first place?

I have this need to stay close to my father. Being involved in Sena Didi Mime, I feel like my father is always by my side, he is always there, seeing us in every performance, even after 19 years since he passed away.

In addition to that personal reason, Sena Didi Mime plays an important part in the development of performing arts in Indonesia. It needs support and contribution from the younger generation to keep pace. Pantomime is in my blood, so I believe I need to do this.

Your hope for this pantomime group in the future?

I hope we can work consistently, keep on presenting performances that can be enjoyed by all levels of society while maintaining a pantomime-style theater that has become our hallmark.

 

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