After he was released from prison he was banned from performing poetry or drama until 1986, when he wrote, directed and starred in his eight-hour-long play “Panembahan Reso,” which discussed the issue of the succession of power that was a taboo at that time. Before the performance at the Senayan sports center, he told his cast of 40-something actors: “Pack your toiletries, because there is a chance that we might get arrested.” The play took six months to prepare and was performed for two nights. “Modern Indonesian theater has no infrastructure. We must create it ourselves,” he used to tell his performers. After the fall of the Suharto dictatorship in 1998 and the beginning of democratization, Rendra was a dominant figure in the emerging world of modern Indonesian literature and theater and became the patron of an unrestricted, free and socially engaged artistic community.
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