Five men enter the stage, each carrying a broom in their hands. They are dressed in costumes made of trash, their faces adorned with expressive makeup. Silently, they move in sequence, led by the music. They sweep the stage, covered in the debris of a world overrun with pollution and garbage. That is the opening scene of “Broom in Hand,” a show created by pantomime troupe Sena Didi Mime, consisting of alumni from the school of performing arts at the Jakarta Arts Institute (IKJ). The troupe is performing “Broom in Hand” from Friday to Sunday this weekend in Berlin as part of the Jakarta-Berlin Arts Festival. The festival, which ends on Sunday, has the goal of bringing together Indonesian and German artists in an attempt to strengthen creative bonds between the two capitals. The pantomime performance tells the story of five friends who must try to keep the world clean after it has become overrun with trash. It is the troupe’s satirical warning to Jakartans about the consequences of their lackadaisical attitude toward the environment. “Indonesians have no discipline when it comes to keeping the world clean,” said show director Yayu A. W. Unru after a rehearsal in Jakarta before the troupe left for Berlin. “They might when they are overseas, but here it is different. “Indonesians are used to throwing rubbish everywhere, polluting the city and destroying the environment.” It may seem like a heavy message to convey through mime, a performance art often associated with clowns trapped in invisible boxes. But pantomime is, in a way, an art form that predates human civilization. Before people developed language, they conveyed their thoughts and emotions through movement and facial expressions alone. In many countries, it is a performance medium that is afforded the same respect as opera or theater. For several decades, Sena Didi Mime has been working to develop and gain respect for pantomime in Indonesia. The troupe has been invited to many international festivals to showcase their original productions. It alsoheld the Jakarta International Pantomime Festival in 1992and 1994. Sena Didi Mime focuses on two types of performances — some with obvious plots, like “Broom in Hand,” and some that are more abstract and conceptual. One of the troupe’s performers, Midoen Al Rasyid, said one thing that makes pantomime unique is that it does not try to impart messages on the audience, only impressions. In the end, it is up to the audience to choose their own interpretation of those impressions. “You won’t be able to find the story of the show, since the point is not to give you the story,” said Didi Petet, troupe founder and one of its lead actors. “People are free to have their own ideas and takes on it.” But, of course, mime is not only about hidden messages, but also about the sheer enjoyment of the show. “Above all, we’re trying to entertain the audience,” said another performer, Stephanus Hermawan, better known as Ciprut . taken from The Jakarta Globe

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