There are endless possibilities that can be realized with the power of three golden wishes. A private jet, eternal luck, world peace? The familiar narrative of three wishes changing a character’s life is seen in numerous folklore and fairy tales across cultures.
The theme for this year’s Indonesian Culture Night, hosted by the Indonesian Bruin Student Association, weaves this storyline in the first half of its evening in the form of a drama production titled “I Wish.” The play tells of a conniving and deceitful mouse deer named Kancil, who is given a chance to change his ways when a sorceress grants him three wishes.
Kancil’s desire for money, fame and travel bring him on a journey through the three different regions of Indonesia: Sumatra, Java and Sulawesi, where three traditional tales of Indonesian folklore are retold with a modern twist.
Aside from being a theater production, the event will also integrate traditional dances and music. These pieces include an a capella dance from the region of Aceh called “Saman,” in which performers are paced by the rhythm of their own voices, as well as one of the most anticipated numbers, “Topeng,” a traditional Balinese dance accompanied by Gamelan.
In Indonesia, Gamelan means “to hit” or “to hammer.” It is a set of brass or bronze traditional instruments that are usually played in weddings, religious ceremonies and other special events.
“What is special about Gamelan is that it can’t be played alone. It must be played as a group … (so that) the different sounds blend together. (In a way), this showcases one of our themes for the night: unity and diversity,” said Ashley Kusuma, third-year psychology student and president of the Indonesian Bruin Student Association.
Indonesian Culture Night’s second theme is “Traditional Meets Modern,” shown through the play but also through the showcase in the latter half of the evening where the student assocation has curated a small collection of photos, costumes representing various regions of Indonesia as well as artifacts from the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia. Although these items display the rich Indonesian tradition, Kusuma said that this aspect of the culture is not strictly of the past but still present today.
“Coming (to UCLA from Indonesia) made me realize how special it was to grow up in a culture that is so rich and still intact even though it is getting more and more modern. Especially in Bali, you can still see temples and people practicing rituals (on a daily basis),” said Kusuma.
Although Indonesia is a country halfway across the world, the culture night will bridge the distance. blending Indonesian traditions with modern life at UCLA, according to Kusuma.
“I think the traditional dances and the different rituals and ceremonies (of Indonesia) are what you don’t really see here that are really unique to Indonesia. As an Indonesian, it makes really really proud to remember where I’m from and to be able to share that with others,” said Kusuma.