This article is part of the Eleven Stories from the Southeast written by Muhammad Sibawaihi, Otty Widasari and Manshur Zikri, published by Forum Lenteng in 2016. We re-upload it on the AKUMASSA website in the framework of the “Darivisual”.Performing Arts Management. That was what Zakaria deemed most needed today by traditional art studio that he led. Zakaria had been dancing Rudat traditional art since childhood. He had also played an important role in Rudat Comedy Theater since teenager, following his grandfather. Zakaria always played The Prince in a single play performed by Setiabudi Rudat Art of Studio Panca Pesona, so had his grandfather. It was Zakaria’s wife who played the princess, which had been played by her since teenager too, so had her mother before. That was the tradition. Even all roles were somehow played by line of descents. One thing for sure was that Rudat was a part of Zakaria’s life forever. The Prince and Princess got married in the play of Rudat Comedy, and they got married in real life. Zakaria remembered everything only through his eyes and ears. Seeing and hearing. Each move, each verses, remain the unwritten.
This Rudat Traditional Art, which consisted of the singing and dancing accompanied by drum music and of which the movement contained elements of silat (traditional martial arts) martial arts, was said to be a tradition brought from Java, which grew and developed as an effort to spread Islam by Wali Songo. The word “Rudat” came from Arabic, raudatun, which meant “flower garden”. This art then grew rapidly in Lombok. I tried to extract Muhammad Imran’s article on the online journal of Pasirputih Community. He had an opinion that up until this day there had been no clear reference about the history of Rudat in Lombok. In his article, Imran presented a paper titled ”Memperkenalkan Tari Rudat Lombok Nusa Tenggara Barat (Introducing the Rudat Dance of Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara)” (Regional Office of Department of Education and Culture of West Nusa Tenggara, Art Development Project of West Nusa Tenggara, 1985/1986: 1) which stated that Rudat Art had been known in Lombok since 1912, introduced by some people who had just returned from Mecca. Another opinion said that history of Rudat was also written in the book “Ensiklopedia Musik dan Tari Daerah Nusa Tenggara Barat”, which stated that this Rudat art was the development of Dzikir Saman and Burdah, both of which were sourced from Arabic art. Dzikir Saman was the recitation of dhikr that was sung, accompanied by pencak silat (Indonesian traditional martial arts) movements. Whereas Burdah was a song performed while dancing the pencak silat movements in a sitting position. The community also believed that Rudat was adopted from Persian culture which was brought by Muslim traders through India, then to Malay Peninsula, and then was brought by the traders and propagators of Islam in Banjar, Kalimantan, to Lombok. Rudat was used as a medium of preaching of the spread of Islam. Besides those opinions, there were still a lot of other opinions about the history of Rudat in Lombok.
However, the text in Traditional Arts of Rudat played by Rudat Setia Budi, Sanggar Panca Pesona, led by Zakaria was recited in two languages at once. The languages that were heard were like the Dutch, which was used as the military-style marching command before and after the dance was played, and the Arabic, which was used as the lyrics of the poem. Neither language was fluently mastered by Zakaria. What existed now was only based on what he had heard since childhood. It was said that there was a book where all of the verses were written. However, the book had beeb lost for a long time. None of the studio members knew the real lyrics. Zakaria was one of the people who cared the most about that. Since he had been young, he had already been trying and constantly digging, looking for references to perfect his Rudat verses, with full awareness that they were not perfect linguistically. With his limited knowledge about the management of modern organization, Zakaria tried to manage the existing archives. In fact, he still had a video documentation produced by a foundation from the capital city, a foundation that in 1994 had done some research and mapping of tradition arts in Lombok. In order to support his efforts, Zakaria continuously came to people or organizations that might give him a lesson about the knowledge of Performing Arts Management. One of them was Pasirputih Community. Zakaria often visited friends from Pasirputih Community to discuss about it, at the same time asking for their help to manage the archives. Zakaria was well aware that this traditional art required a reform. The conflict sometimes happened between Zakaria and several other members. It was caused by difficulty to survive as a Rudat artist. Generally, they only performed when there was an invitation. They were mostly the invitations to perform at the wedding reception, besides some other invitations such as political events and anything like that. Such situation, plus economic needs which were not sure could be met by Rudat, made them a little bit cautious about people coming to research or to work collaboratively with the empowerment method. There was a bit of concern, in case this heritage treasure of the ancestors was stolen, copied, and developed in other regions. But Zakaria’s thought was completely different. For him, it would be nice if there were people who paid attention and had the initiative to develop their traditional art in other regions, because it was an act of distribution of cultural knowledge that would give benefit to the traditional arts of Lombok.
As a theater director, for Syamsul Fajri Nurawat or commonly called Jabo, it was a challenge to put his ego aside as an artist, and then to put forward the traditional art that was getting to fade away into the wider society.
Terengan Village was an area known to have many Rudat traditional arts groups. Of the several Rudat art groups in Terengan, Jabo was interested to invite the Rudat Art group led by Zakaria. Jabo’s main reason was because of the Zakaria’s openness to the innovation and his amazing dedication to his choice of art.
Then their meeting produced a discussion about the action of discourse that imagined that the traditional art-that seemed to be treated as an antique all this time-could be present in the community in a new way. As the traditional art performers, if all this time what they had known was that their works could only be present in society when there were invitations, then this time the effort was to turn the power of the traditional arts into a catalyst for cultural social interaction. Together with Jabo, Zakaria and his studio created a dramaturgy that in the sociological context indeed expressed that theater and drama had the same meaning as social interaction in human life.
So, Rudat performances as collaboration between Jabo and Setiabudi Rudat Art of Studio Panca Pesona started. They always started the action by walking from one point in the center of Pemenang City, and ended in Bangsal. All dancers wore military costumes in bright colors. They lined up under the command that sounded like Dutch. Then they started to do the Pencak Silat movements while reciting the verses that sounded like salawat, or prayer and praise to the Prophet Muhammad SAW. In the composition of the song and dance Zakaria acted as the narrator (perawi), or the singer. A narrator (in this context, perawi-hadith narrator) was a person who received and delivered the hadith of the Prophet Muhammad SAW. Along the way to Bangsal, Rudat action was like greeting and inviting residents to do anything for the good, either inviting to be happy and to pray and to praise the Prophet together, or inviting residents of Pemenang to win and to return to Bangsal.
So, in the collaboration of Jabo’s modern theater and Zakaria’s Rudat traditional art, people who met there were not in the context of cost and benefit. The social interaction that happened was because there were social attachment and kinship. The motive of the audience to see this tradition art was no longer because of a show that was bound with procedure, but because of the event itself. The event of residents watching was a part of Rudat itself. It was not limited by the stage and event protocol. Individualism, which usually stood out in the figure of a modern theater actor, was reduced here. It was as if Jabo the theater director reunited with constructions of traditional art, which was Rudat. This meeting happened in a new framework of thinking, which was by the method of social strategy. Then, what happened next was a full awareness between the two that the new perspective did not necessarily have to change Rudat into something completely new. Rudat would be forever Rudat because going back to the sociological context; dramaturgy itself was between social interaction and learning about human being as a phenomenon.
When the football field on the beach was vacant since it was the interval before entering the second round of the preliminary round of Bangsal Cup, the line of Rudat marched into the center of the pitch and recited their dynamic poem, and residents enjoyed again this luxury of life of coastal community that was merenten mempolong (‘brotherhood’).