Jim Lim’s old tale of contemporary theater

SIPFest 2018 is a performing arts bienalle held by Komunitas Salihara in conjunction with the art center’s tenth anniversary. think archipelago is a proud media partner of the event which runs from 4 August 2018 onwards until early September. To see more of their programs, please click all the SIPFest 2018 banner found in think archipelago website.


Indonesia’s theater legendary Jim Adhi Limas, also known as Jim Lim, delivered a lecture on the early development of contemporary theater in the late 50s, and a performance with Wawan Sofwan and Joind Bayuwinanda in SIPFest 2018.

Dubbed as the founder of Indonesian contemporary theater, Jim Lim was credited for being one of seven founders of Studiklub Teater Bandung (STB), 1958, besides university colleagues Suyatna Anirun, Thio Tjong Gie, Tin Srikartini, Sutardjo A., Wiramihardja, Adrian Kahar, and a journalist Soeharmono Tjitrosuwarno.

Led by Jim and Suyatna, the country’s oldest modern theater club had a mission to promote the not so popular subculture at the time. Jim directed their debut performance Jayaprana, playing Raja Buleleng Anak Agung Gde Jelantik, and Suyatna as I Gusti Ketut Putus. Some of the archives were presented in the lecture program Omongobrolan in Komunitas Salihara.

The former headed for France in 1967 on scholarship program, and decided to stay there ever since, leaving Suyatna to lead the band alone, and had continuously made prolific works in decades that follow, such as Karto Loewak, the adaptation of Ben Jhonson’s Volvone (1973), and Kavia Sang Natha from Shakespeare’s King Lear (2009).

Not only performing foreign scripts by Goethe, Chekov, Moliere, Schiller, H Von Kliest, or Tennesee Williams, STB had popularized local scripts by Ajip Rosidi, Utuy T. Sontani, Misbach J Biran, Kirjomulyo, Saini KM, and Bakdi Sumanto.

Jim’s constant presence in French filmography also made him continuously appear since 1973 until recent time, where he was known for Diva (1981), Gwendoline (1984), the Bitter Moon (1992), un Amour de Sorcière (1997). His latest act was in 2017 sci-fi movie Les aventures de Spirou et Fantasio. 

In his homecoming interview in early 2018, the 80 year-old Jim said that having started in theater made him easier to adapt in film industry, but might not be vice versa.

Wawan Sofwan were among aspiring actors in Bandung who joined the theater club. He then founded Main Teater.

The birth of many modern theater groups in Bandung similar to Wawan’s Main Teater is claimed to have its partial origin in STB, namely Actor’s Unlimited (AUL), Laskar Panggung Bandung (LPB), Bandoengmooi, Teater Re-Publik, or the 25 years existence of Teater Bell.

Just like Nano Riantiarno’s Teater Koma, or the late W.S. Rendra’s Teater Bengkel, Jim’s and Suyatna’s STB shares the status as celebrated Indonesia’s modern theaters.

Omongobrolan at SIPFest 2018, Jakarta

From left: Joind Bayuwinanda, Wawan Sofwan, and Jim Adhi Limas, in a performance in SIPFest 2018, Komunitas Salihara, Jakarta, 12 August 2018

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