Then the fun moves into a nearby auditorium, where the students present a skit of their own devising. Each skit is adapted somehow from traditional stories, or elements of them, so as to allow performances from different traditions around the Indonesian archipelago. In one show a few years ago, the star, a U-M undergrad, played the daughter of the deceased sultan of Yogyakarta, whose representative was sent to bring her back and reacquaint her with her Indonesian roots. The plot took quite a few twists and turns, with video interludes and a sword in a stone, and performances that included a dance troupe sent from the Indonesian consulate in Chicago. This year's skit is based on the Ramayana epic that arrived in Indonesia from India in ancient times.
The Southeast Asian Studies program at the U-M is notable for the quality of the visiting artists it brings to campus. Each year, Indonesian dancers and puppeteers and gamelan orchestra teachers give and direct remarkable performances of a kind that are available at only a few other places in the U.S. But culture has to remake itself to survive, and the student Cultural Night shows are one way that happens.
This year's Indonesian Cultural Night begins with dinner at 6 p.m., followed by performances in Angell Hall Auditorium B at 7. Advance tickets (required) are generally sold in the Fishbowl and at other campus locations during the week before the event. For more information, email Maria Magdalena Winarni at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Originally published in February, 2013.]