Born to a Roman Catholic family (his father was a Catholic English teacher) and baptized as Willibrordus Surendra Bawana Rendra, he changed his name to 'only' Rendra when he embraced Islam in 1970. After studying English literature and culture at Gajah Mada University in Yogyakarta (Central Java), he didn't make time to graduate because with his first theatrical project he was already gainfully employed. In 1963 he staged his first play ( "Dead Voices"), became fascinated with the craft, and from then on, with his traditional religious ritual performances, as well as Western avant-garde experiments, captured and kept large audiences. Because of the nature of his poetry readings and his sexy performances on the stage, he was given the nickname "Burung Merak“ (the Peacock) by the press.
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