The obsessive twist coming your way (The Jakarta Post, March 2012)

The obsessive twist coming your way

Dina Indrasafitri, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Sat, 03/24/2012 12:11 PM

Horror movies milking the usual images of various types of ghouls and ghosts, as well as scantily clad women, who somehow find their way into the plots, still flood local cinemas.

But the play Goyang Penasaran (The Obsessive Twist) mixes the two elements of horror and sensuality in a slightly different twist, offering the audience a critical look at the issues of sexuality, religion and politics through the story of a village beauty, who is both lusted after and despised.

According to the explanation on the play’s webpage, which was set up to raise funds to stage the play in Jakarta, Goyang Penasaran is “a commentary on both the euphoria and the crisis of visibility after the downfall of Soeharto’s authoritarian regime”.

“After long suppression by the regime, celebrations of sexuality as well as various expressions of Muslim public piety are now inseparable from the democratization package. On the bleaker side, the public sphere is now crowded by some groups who, in the name of religion, conduct violence against symbols of moral decadence, from dangdut shows to LGBT conferences and festivals,” the site explains.

Goyang Penasaran has been staged several times in Yogyakarta and is slated to play in the Salihara Art Community in South Jakarta, next month, as part of the Women’s Festival.

The play tells the story of Salimah, a dangdut singer in a village. Salimah, both the locals’ object of desire and scorn, has feelings for her old religious teacher, who condemns her because she is regarded as the cause of moral degradation among the village’s men folk. Meanwhile, village head Solihin longs for the day when he can make her his wife.

The play is based on a story written by author and gender expert Intan Paramaditha, who at first included it among the four stories she wrote, along with fellow writers Eka Kurniawan and Ugoran Prasad, for a tribute project to local writer Abdullah Harahap, known for his prolific career in writing horror stories.

“One of the stories I wrote [for the project] was Goyang Penasaran because I was interested in the issue of sexuality and politics at that time. I thought maybe I should write about how sexuality appears in the public space in relation to the issues of religion and the state,” Intan said.


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