by Debbie Miller
Herlina Syarifudin defines herself as an “Indonesian woman playwright, director, and monologue actress.” Syarifudin lives in Jakarta, Indonesia, where she teaches high school and writes plays, monologues, short stories, and poetry in her native Bahasa/Indonesian language. Her plays have been produced in Indonesia (Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan, and Bali).
On November 15, 2014 Syarifudin founded the Keluarga Theater company in Jakarta. According to Syarifudin, Keluarga members represent “a wide range of disciplines” including actors, directors, playwrights, choreographers, costume designers, and models. Thus, Keluarga encompasses theatre, movies, dance, fine arts, fashion, and street performance.
Currently, Syarifudin’s play “My Name is Name” (translated from Indonesian) is in rehearsals with Syarifudin directing and producing. The play has been selected to be performed at the Women Playwrights International Conference (WPIC) this year in Cape Town, South Africa.
The following is a Q&A interview with Syarifudin. As English is not her native language, the text has been adjusted slightly in terms of grammar, but the words are her own.
Q: Did you study playwriting in a college or university?
A: No, I didn’t. I’m self-taught (an autodidact ) and I joined a short playwriting workshop.
Q: Did you study acting in a college or university?
A: No, I didn’t. I’m self-taught. I joined productions in some theater groups here, watched theater (live, You Tube and Vimeo), read books about acting, joined a short acting workshop, and discussed acting with senior theater artists.
Q: Why do you write plays?
A: Because I love theater. In theater, especially for playwriting there are many challenges with its own difficulties for us as playwrights compared if we are writing short stories. When I write a play, I’m not only in position as a playwright, but I have to imagine the play as a director also.
For example, how can I create characters and find actors who can play the characters in the script? How can I describe the situation in each scene and the space and time of the setting, considering the size and type of the stage that we will use to show the play (public space/ outdoor or indoor)? How can a lighting director, artistic director, makeup and costume designer translate/interpret my script on the stage?
Q: Do you write: monologues, full length plays, one act plays, or ten minute plays? Comedy, drama? One-person shows?
A: I have written monologues, full length plays, one act plays and ten minute plays in all genres like comedy, tragic comedy, drama, and melodrama. But, all of my plays and monologues are still in the Indonesian language. The only one that is in English is a play “My Name is Name.” So, that’s why I joined ICWP, to motivate me to start translate all of my plays and monologues into English so that they can be read and performed by theatre companies around the world.
Q: How long have you been writing?
A: When I was at Senior High School I started writing a diary book. When I was in college, my writing evolved into poetry, short stories, and plays. And I started seriously writing plays in 2006. But sometimes if I am stagnant in an idea to write a play, I move on to writing poetry, short stories, and scenario of short films. It depends on my mood.
Q: Do you write plays and monologues to educate people? If so, what do you want to educate people about? Is there a theme that underlies a lot of your writing?
A: Yes, I do. In my plays and monologues, there are moral messages about how to learn about life, humanity, and give more attention for the many things that to other people might no longer matter. For example, most of the themes in my plays and monologues talk about minorities—street children, traditional arts that are almost extinct and have been lost because people in this generation are not interested in learning them anymore, and marginalized, economic low class people. And, the struggle of women.
Q: Can you tell me about one character you are proud of?
A: I have a monologue that I perform titled “Victimizing Goddess Cokek.” The Goddess of Cokek is a representation from a figure of master Cokek artist Mak Masnah (“Mak” means “mother”). It is from the Betawi people in Java, an island in Indonesia. Mak Masnah was born in an era of warfare. She died on January 26, 2014. “Cokek” is from the Chinese language Hokkian and means a woman singer. Cokek is a traditional art of Chinese and Betawi cultures. I am interested in honoring her and lifting her story because she devoted her life to being a Cokek artist. Her jobs as an artist were not enough to finance her life and her family and she didn’t always get jobs because there were many competitors during that time. But, she was still loyal as a Cokek artist until she died. And, the problem now is that there are not people of this generation who are interested in becoming Cokek artists. I have performed this monologue 15 times between 2009 and 2014, as playwright, director, and performer. I dedicate “Victimizing Goddess Cokek” to Mak Masnah.
Here are links to two 30-minute videos of Herlina Syarifusin performing “Victimizing Goddess Cokek:”
Welcome New Members & Returning Members
Rahmat Ismail Bint Zakari, Abuai, Nigeria
My name is Rahmat Ismail Bint Zakari. I am a Nigerian from Benue state (north central) of the country and I reside in Abuaj, the federal capital territory for the Nigeria people.
Growing up then in my secondary school days, I became interested in my school dramatic club and subsequently before graduation in 1993, I was able to put together my first play titled "The Seed of Love". Since that piece, my interest has remained uninterrupted even though I have not been able to publish any of my pieces.
The reason why I want join the conversation is to afford me opportunity to learn and improve my writing talent. I am a member of a writer's forum here my country and since joining the forum, I do know that I enjoy some level of satisfaction as I get to participate in our monthly writers' challenge in which my story once won second. I look forward to having a more gratifying experience being member of your group.
You can always reach me through my email address.
Séverine Klein, Paris, France
I am a French and live in Paris. I mostly write in French and sometimes in English. I have published a novel (La vérité peut attendre, Truth can wait) and a play (Maîtres-chanteurs/Blackmailers) and have written several other plays.
I am also an actress though writing is my my main artistic interest.
Among modern/contemporary playwrights, I like most Yasmina Reza, Bernard-Marie Koltès, Jean Tardieu, Lee Blessing, Theresa Rebeck, Sarah Kane, Hanokh Levin, Arthur Miller and some Harold Pinter.
I am a trained writing coach and have helped a few writers to improve theirs drafts.
I feel ICWP can be a place where I can discuss current trends in playwriting in English. I would also like to discuss directing plays while being the author.
My website (in French): www.severineklein.net
Laylah Muran de Assereto
*Russ Travis, New York, USA
*Men are welcome to join ICWP as long as they support women playwrights.
Sandra Seaton, Michigan, USA
Playwright and librettist, Sandra's plays have been performed in cities throughout the country, including New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, and her libretto for the song cycle From the Diary of Sally Hemings, set to music by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer William Bolcom, has been performed at such venues as Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center.
Seaton’s first play, The Bridge Party, set in a small Southern town during World War II, dramatizes a confrontation between members of an African American women’s bridge club and deputies engaged in a house-to-house search in the black community. www.sandraseaton.com
Christine Trageser, Red Brick Road
Paula Kamen, Evanston, Illinois USA
Among other plays, the author of Jane: Abortion and the Underground, which is excerpted in Best Female Stage Scenes and Best Female Monologues series. Also the author of four non-fiction books, the most recent being "Finding Iris Chang."
Katherine Koller, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Katherine writes for radio, stage and screen. Her one-act comedies have been produced at the Edmonton Fringe Festival, CBC radio, Jagged Edge Lunchbox Theatre, Winnipeg‘s FemFest, Alumnae Theatre in Toronto and Walterdale Playhouse in Edmonton.
She teaches in the Department of English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta. Her website is www.katherinekoller.ca.
Jennifer Decker, Mildred's Umbrella Theater Company
Heartfelt Thank You to Donors
ICWP appreciates donations from members, former members, future members and anyone who supports women playwrights. We extend our heartfelt thanks to the following individuals who donated this quarter.
Carolyn Nur Wistrand
Articles of Interest
10 Words Every Girl Should Know
A discussion of daughters and the words we speak to them.
We Want More Older and Real Women on TV
A study showing TV audiences' perception of women in mass media.
Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) 2015 Conference
July 30 to August 2,
Montréal Québec Canada.
April 27 & 28th, Vice President Sophie Romma, and member Shirley Barrie will attend the Gender Equity in Theatre International Conference in Toronto, in representation of ICWP.
Sophia is also part of a smaller working group at the conference and will give a short description of ICWP and its work on gender parity issues. She will address the questions of what our organization is currently doing, the greatest challenges we face and the strengths and resources of our organization.
The International Centre for Women Playwrights (ICWP) 50/50 Applause Awards was founded in 2012 to increase awareness and applaud theatres that produced a season with an equal or greater number of plays written by female playwrights. Nominations for the 2015 award open May 1.
In the November 2014 Newsletter, I reported that ICWP had nominated member Madhuri Shekar, as candidate for the Lark Pony Fellowship 2015. We would like to announce that Martyna Majok, author of Ironbound, a Top Ten play for the 2014 Kilroys’ list, received that honor. The Lark and Playwrights of New York (PoNY) reported that "Majok was selected from a very talented group of writers who were nominated by artistic leaders and graduate playwriting programs from across the country." Congratulations, Martyna.
Website Tip of the Month
One of the benefits of your ICWP membership is that you can post details of any Productions or Readings events, Awards you may have received and Publications, on the ICWP website.
The links to your listings will appear on the ICWP website Homepage under the "Achievements"
• Productions ( or Public Readings ),
• Awards ( includes Bursaries, Contest Winner, Finalist, commended, Grants received)
• Publications ( Sole Author or Multiple Author Works) .
Just log in on the website with your membership email and password. If you forgot your password, click the Forgot Password link under the login box and you will receive a password help email.
Adding your achievements -
Click on the News link in the top menu Next: In the left menu you will see the links to go to Member Awards Member Productions Member Publications As a logged in member , you should see, on each page, a button that says " Add Post". Just follow the instructions on the page
We are very happy to have Debbie Miller, New York teacher, writer and playwright, join us as Spotlight writer. We are anxious to hear from all our members. If you have any comments or if you would like to nominate yourself or someone else for the spotlight, please reply to this email.
Yours for innovative, engaging, and equitable theater,