Randai, a folk dance-drama form of entertainment originating in West Sumatra and performed by the Minangkabau ethnic group of that region, is rarely seen outside of Indonesia. The only university program in the West to offer Randai performances, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa presents its third Randai production in 10 years this season.
Directed by Professor Kirstin Pauka, a specialist in Southeast Asian theatre and dance, The Genteel Sabai will be performed in English at Kennedy Theatre Feb. 3–12, 2012. Free pre-show chats are scheduled at 7 p.m. before the Feb. 4 and 11 performances. Onstage seating available on a first-come first-serve basis at the performance to all ticket holders.
Video: Pauka giving a lecture about Randai at Duke University, August 2010
Originally a demonstration of martial arts performed by young boys, the form has developed over the years to include dance, song and acting. Martial arts patterns are performed in a circle with sung or acted interludes. Performers slap the fabric of their pants in percussive movements termed “galombang.” Females have been allowed to participate since the 1960s.
The Genteel Sabai tells the story of a daughter who seeks revenge for the murder of her father and features a female leading role. Two master teachers from Sumatra are training the UH student performers over a six-month period in preparation for the spring performance.
See a related exhibit, Procession: Matrilineal Minangkabau in Indonesia, at the East-West Center Gallery Jan. 29–Apr. 29, 2012.