GAYA 2017 makes a return in a big way with Kisar: The Turning Point. It tells the story of a man who recedes into his past, bringing about a change in his perception of the present. Centered around the themes of love and transformation, SMU Komunitas Indonesia’s production is quintessentially didactic. GAYA 2017, much like its predecessor, marries the hard work of its talented actors, directors, and producers, with spectacular visual and aural direction. Curious to get in on some of that behind-the-scenes action, The Blue and Gold (TBNG) sat down with some of the them and picked their brains so you wouldn’t have to!
TBNG: “First things first: How about an introduction for our readers out there?”
Ryvenny: Hey guys! I’m Ryvenny! Jeremy and I are the producers of GAYA 2017. Here we have our directors Crivelli, Clara, and Yan. And last but definitely not least, our main cast members Haja, Toshin, De Zhong, and Andry.
“Why GAYA 2017 and more importantly, why your chosen department? How is GAYA different from other productions or events?”
Crivelli: GAYA is something I always look forward to. It’s SMUKI’s signature event, and we always want to showcase our endless ideas. Directing is something that is not easy, and I’m still learning [to] hone my craft. This year’s GAYA is going to be great- it has amazingly creative people in the team, [and a] wonderful storyline.
Yan: I enjoyed being a part of GAYA 2016 as an actor [as] it was from there that I learnt a lot about being part of a performance. This year I joined as a director with the intention to bring my ideas to life. The best part was [that] I would be surrounded by my closest friends. There’s was simply no better way.
De Zhong: I originally joined GAYA 2016 as I wanted to be part of a large musical production [and] it seemed like the only one in SMU. However, after joining GAYA, I realized that I had signed up for much more: to be part of a family. GAYA may seem foreign as it is [primarily] made up of Indonesian members, but what differentiates it from other productions is that it is inclusive to a fault; anyone and everyone who is interested in performance or the arts is welcomed. That’s why I came back for GAYA 2017.
“What about GAYA 2017 is special? What is its message?”
Yan: What we want to convey is that [through] loving someone so much, one [can] become a better and bigger person. We are using a traditional story [embedded in] Indonesia’s past and rekindling its magic by weaving in artistic and fictional elements. For this year’s GAYA, we wanted to do something different in terms of tone, such as adding more comical elements. We wanted to make it artistic yet entertaining.
De Zhong: What’s special to me is that this is the only musical production in SMU that’s made up of a wide array of cast and crew that span across multiple schools and nationalities. What so special about it? You could say that it’s message is about learning to become a better individual through the study of history…but really, you have to watch it to find out for yourselves.
Jeremy: GAYA 2017 specially incorporates one of the forgotten wars in Cirebon’s history. With a perfect blend of the contemporary and the traditional, this year’s GAYA offers audiences varying perspectives of different eras in Indonesia.
“If you had to sum up your journey so far in a single word, what would it be? What does GAYA mean to you?”
Yan: “Fairytale.” Looking back, it’s unbelievable how much we have done. GAYA is like a wok: you [have] all the ingredients such as different people, their experiences, and stories. The ingredients in the wok have to be processed under intense heat and pressure as they are smashed together. While being cooked hurts, the ingredients in the wok have gelled and synthesized in order to become something greater…like Char Kway Teow.
Crivelli: “Inspiring.” Every time we work with different people that come from different departments, something unexpected happens: ideas that [previously] never occurred to me suddenly pop up. To me, GAYA means family and connecting with people.
“How has the journey of GAYA transformed you so far?”
Ryvenny: I wanted to learn to be a better leader. I thought I could manage people and remain in control but I wasn’t as good [as I thought I’d be]. It takes a lot of courage and self- control to bring a team together.
Clara: I learnt how to become better at managing people, whilst managing myself. Given that we all have our [own] commitments, I have learnt the importance of planning things in advance and becoming a better communicator.
Yan: This experience has changed the way I see challenges. I can’t stop thanking god for how much I’ve stretched myself [when] I really needed the push. Never underestimate the power of believing in something. When a lot of people share the same faith and wish for a [common] outcome, the world conspires to make it happen.
Toshin: The best thing is that there is so much diversity within the cast of GAYA. It is a great opportunity to step into the shoes of your character and act on a such large scale. I have become so much more self-aware.
Jeremy: GAYA has opened up opportunities for me to meet and work with amazing creatives. With that, I have learnt how to better manage my team in order for us to work harmoniously to achieve a common goal.
“How do you resonate with your onscreen character? What are the similarities or differences?”
Haja: I play the Stranger, who is supposed to be a guiding persona for those who need guidance. I can be real or fake, depending upon the one’s interpretation. The way I portray the Stranger is how I portray myself in real life: we react to things pretty much the same way.
Toshin: The reason why I love being an antagonist (and why I will always enjoy [playing] the antagonist) is because I can unleash a not-so-pleasant side of myself. All of us have a dark side where we have dark thoughts; a [desire] to unleash the beast within us.
Andry: My character is a successful [albeit] arrogant businessman. He is someone I aspire to be, but without his personality [because] staying humble is very important to me.
De Zhong: My character in GAYA 2017, an Indonesian prince, is rather easy to play since he’s so predictable. Similarities? I guess we’re both well-spoken. The prince however is portrayed [to be] quite ‘Atas’, along with a pompous gait- I’m not quite like that.
“What is one thing that you hadn't expected when you joined GAYA?”
Haja: The scheduling of the rehearsals. The news of the production being bought forward hit us [hard]. Suddenly there was a shortage of 5 weeks, which would have greatly helped in selling more tickets and improving our production.
Toshin: GAYA forced me out of my comfort zone. I had to learn to sing in tune and on the beat, all the while interacting with audiences and other characters.
Andry: I [used to think] acting was easy. It’s honestly not! I’m also a horrible singer; I have to lip-sync!
Jeremy: The incredibly talented individuals that we have on board.
“What was challenging in bringing this script to life?”
Haja: We have so many additions and ideas to [contribute to] the script that it never stays the same. It just keeps getting better and better. Adapting to the constantly changing script is the main challenge. Sticking to your character is equally challenging as it’s easy to get lost in our own personalities. [The] same goes for the dancers, staying motivated is hard.
Crivelli: Communication is challenging when it comes to portraying certain ideas. When the script was very technical and detailed, I expected everyone to get the feel and understand the grand vision merely from reading the text. This however, was difficult.
Andry: Embodying the character of someone who was nothing like me was unnatural. I had to learn to be arrogant and live it in real life.
“What do you want the audience to take away from this show?”
Yan: We want them to be inspired by our production and understand our key message: to be a better person. I want students watching this to think, “Wow, GAYA is so great, I want to join the production next year.”
Crivelli: We want audiences to be able to relate to the story; it [reflects] the plight of our current society.
Andry: You might be successful, but there is no need to be arrogant. [Stay] humble, as there is no point in showing off.
Jeremy: When you think you have it all, you will lose yourself.
“Without giving anything away, which is your favorite line of dialogue?”
Haja: “I want to tell you a story.”
Toshin: “Have you ever seen man-sized rabbits before?”
Andry:“I’m done with you, with this dream and all of this nonsense.”
De Zhong:“We can learn a lot from history, we just have to appreciate it.”
“Alright, last question: you have 30 seconds to convince readers to grab tickets. Go!”
Andry: For my friends: it’s your one and only chance to catch me singing on stage live. For the public: watch me embarrass myself on stage and leave the venue with a big grin [plastered] across your face.
De Zhong: You’ll get to see my bare-naked chest.
Jeremy: GAYA never fails to amaze audiences. Last year, SMU’s President came directly from the airport to watch GAYA 2016 despite his long journey from Brussels. It’s the perfect [blend] of acting, singing, dancing, and story-telling. GAYA [is] unique; don’t miss the chance to be amazed.
I don’t know about you, but we are psyched for GAYA 2017. What are you waiting for? Tickets are on sale now!