“AN ACTOR IS BORN” – On September 1968, writer Salim Said remarked a milestone of Indonesia’s performing arts on newspaper’s front page. He was talking about young Slamet Rahardjo, who was celebrated for his major acting debut on Teguh Karya’s rendition of Kammerherre Alving (The Ghost). Being shy and very young at age, Mr. Slamet found his sudden rise of fame astounding and overwhelming. Amidst that feeling of awe he discovered his love for theatre, which was a new thing for him. Even so, his passion for art has been rooted deeply in his veins ever since he was little.
For Mr. Slamet, art relates closely with the value of humanity. Raised in family with military background, he sought priceless lessons about the values of humanity from his father. He also learned to cultivate talent and reasoning from his mother who was an artist and scholar herself. From the beginning, Mr. Slamet’s artistic sense is developed in form of ideas and mindsets instead of works and crafts.
“An artist is a scholar, a thinker, an analyst of ideas,” He tells HighEnd, “And beyond all that, an artist is responsible of manifesting those ideas through artworks. We cannot just stop at coming up with the ideas—we are bound to the act of creation”. Mr. Slamet further adds that it is essential for artists to seek for truth in their artworks, not justification. “Truth is often expressed differently from one person to another. We can know whether or not an artwork is authentic or not just by looking at it. Thus, it is important to be true to oneself.”
Starting his education in motion picture as camera person and soon as art director at Akademi Teater Nasional Indonesia (ATNI), Mr. Slamet would never think that his acting career would be a breaking-through. It was his fellow Teater Populer pioneer Teguh Karya who challenged him to demonstrate his interpretation of “good acting”. Despite him being unconfident with his own performance, Mr. Slamet finds his mentor pleased by his attempt and asked him to change his major to acting. As he learned acting, he got bewildered by the fact that he is no longer a shy and nervous person when he’s on stage. Soon, he came into realization that theatre is not merely about performance: “It’s about going deeper, about understanding a character, a role.”
Through decades, Mr. Slamet expanded his career to acting and directing for both theatre and motion picture alongside Teguh Karya. Other than adopting the spirit and love for work from Teguh Karya, Mr. Slamet always regards his family s and colleagues to expand his knowledge, including Tuti Indra Malaon. Even in the middle of indulging fame, young Slamet Rahardjo always keep his grandfather’s wisdom in mind. “In life, you should always spare some space for imperfection, so that we remember to live unpretentiously”, he recalls as he smiles.
Carrying the legacy of theatre and motion picture, Mr. Slamet admits that time is a flux and artists should embrace the flow without holding back. “Each generation has its own heroes and villains; themes and problems we cannot compare. However, it is important to hold onto influential figures that bring positive changes to the society”, he emphasizes. Through the changing times, he points out the art of reflecting who we are, “There are times of highs and lows. At the wuthering heights of life, we need to keep in mind about our lows and roots, to always reconsider what we are able to do and what we want to do.”
Photos: Ditya Nuraga Alamsyah & Naufal Rakhaviansyah