In August 2017, being a part of the Asian TYA Network representing Indonesia was a great opportunity and precious experience for me. As a director of an annual storytelling festival that has been held in Jakarta since 2013, the opportunity to become a part of the Asian TYA Network was an incredible learning experience. In 2018, we will start to hold a festival that contains puppet performances for the younger generation.
The Asian TYA Network allowed me to enjoy various theater performances during the Ricca Ricca Festa, meet and have discussions with other participants of the Asian TYA Network from various backgrounds and gave me the opportunity to learn directly from artists and performers during the Ricca Ricca Festa.
For me, the Ricca Ricca Festa was a great festival. From the team that held the festival, ACO Okinawa, up to the volunteers working the festival, everyone was extremely friendly and easy to communicate with.
The festival was held in a decent and organized manner. Based on my own personal experience, it is not easy to organize a festival. However, this festival was organized in such a superb way that all of the events during the festival went smoothly. The decision to hold performances in various corners of the city of Okinawa was a refreshing treat that provided a great atmosphere to the performances. It felt like I was attending a festival that was truly held by the people of Okinawa. This allowed be to get a deeper understanding of the city. The city became much more enticing due to the many performances held in the city and the background and culture of the city, which I learned about during the festival.
There are a few things I would like to convey as my main topic of discussion in this report.
This is what viewers will see when they sit and watch a performance. This is what I did during the Ricca Ricca Festa. First, I positioned myself as a person sitting down while enjoying a performance. Second, I changed my point of view to match the target audience. This allowed me to see a performance through a larger dimension. This also allowed me to understand and learn about many elements from TYA.
During some occasions, I had the opportunity to watch a theater performance targeted for babies. This gave me a different impression of the performance. This was the first time I watched a theater performance targeted for babies. There were many aspects of the performance that I could not enjoy. However, when I altered by point of view and adjusted it to match the target audience, I gained a better understanding of the performance and was able to enjoy it. The story, music, lighting, up to the point of attack of the performance was felt. This was only possible when I freed myself from being an adult and attempted to approach the performance from a different angle so I could enjoy it.
One thing bothered me during the Ricca Ricca Festa. For a world-class festival that contained amazing performers from across the world that gave mindboggling performances, there was one basic element that was lacking: the audience.
I am a storyteller, writer of some scripts and have performed in amateur theater performances. My experience is nothing compared to some of the performers in TYA. However, I observed one thing. When the audience is filled with the target audience of the performance, watching the performance would feel different.
During the Ricca Ricca Festa, I observed that there lacked younger viewers in the audience during many of the performances. The fact that most of the viewers were adults seemed odd to me. It did not matter whether or not I enjoyed the performance. I felt strange watching the performance aimed at younger viewers with more adults in the audience than children.
If I were part of the theater group holding the performance, adults (some of which were seniors, festival performers and members of the TYA Network program) in the audience would not have been a problem in the way I executed the performance. However, if there were more of my target audience during the performance, in this case children, I would certainly feel like my performance could have had a better impact on the audience.
The Spectacle of a theater can be built based on various related elements aimed at strengthening the storyline and atmosphere created for the audience. The storyline of a performance must definitely be strong. However, the quality of a theatrical performance can also be created based on this Spectacle. While watching the performances during the Ricca Ricca Festa, I observed the various scenery, costumes and special effects made by the production team.
It was obvious that all of the theater groups invited to perform at the Ricca Ricca Festa were curated first. The committee also ensured that these groups were well known professionals in their field. Each performance had its own strong sense of style, from the storyline to the spectacle. I believe that these strong performances would benefit the performer’s target, which is to be more attractive for the younger generation. Moreover, these younger members of the audience would be able to gain a better understanding of the implicit messages conveyed during the performance. Some of the performances that had the most impact on me were Goodbye Mr.Muffin; One Morning I Left; I on The Sky; and Again. All of these plays had different spectacle strengths, all of which were unique and appealing. The setting of the stage, the lighting, the audio, up to the costumes and special effects strengthened the theme or idea of the storyline.
The class or quality of a production was clearly visible here. This also helped me understand that a performance targeted for younger viewers, or children, also includes various elements that could improve the quality of said performance. This could also allow younger viewers to have their first experience of art through good quality theater.
During the Ricca Ricca Festa, I also learned how to hold a festival. I learned many basic elements for holding a festival based on the various points of views of the performer. Plus, I learned a lot from the international performers as well. This festival allowed me to learn how to combine the basic elements of a theatrical performance (script, scenario and plan) in order to come up with a great production concept, familiarize myself with the process of creating a great performance up to the way this great concept was conveyed to the viewers, specifically children. I expanded my network by getting to know some of the performers, observers and conceptualizers of TYA in East Asia and Southeast Asia. This was an advantage for me that could help me start a TYA festival in Indonesia.
The Asian TYA Network itself gave me the opportunity to meet and collaborate with many others in my field. I would love to continue to be an active participant of the Asian TYA Network because it expands my understanding and helps me gain new knowledge about theater.
My next challenge would be to maintain communication with members of the Asian TYA Network and attempt to share knowledge or experiences related to the members of this network. I would also love the opportunity to visit events held by this network in order to learn so much more.
Thank you ACO Okinawa and thank you to the Asia Center Japan Foundation.
Mochamad Ariyo Faridh Zidni