Enjoying a vacation on the island of Bali won’t be complete if you haven't seen the performing arts. There are many choices of arts that you can watch: Kecak Dance, Drama Gong, or any art exhibitions in a gallery or art space. However, if you want to enjoy a combination of various arts, enjoy Dramatari Arja.
Dramatari Arja was first performed around the 1820s. At that time, Klungkung Regency was ruled by I Dewa Agung Sakti. All the players are male, they will also play even the female character. Dramatari Arja is a comedy performance and was very welcomed by the community at the time. This performance is a combination of drama and dance. The name “Arja” comes from the Sanskrit “Reja”, which is added by the prefix “A”. So it becomes “Areja”. Well, along time, Areja is called Arja, which means beauty in everything. Dramatari Arja doesn’t use any dialogue in its performance. However, the dialogue is sung like opera.
Not only movement, singing, and acting on stage. The costume and ornaments are also considered well in this dramatic performance. Players wear traditional clothing according to the era. Although in nowadays performance, there are some adjustments, so the costumes won’t be according to the standard anymore. This adjustment didn't diminish the art performers' enthusiasm of Dramatari Arja and the audience who enjoyed it. The composition and perspective of the stage are also well-thought in this drama. Everything can be measured for its beauty, just like the meaning of the name “Arja”.
Dramatari Arja's performance has undergone several phases. In the first phase, it’s only played by a character without the accompaniment of gamelan music. During the performance, a performer sang a monologue dialogue on stage. Anyway, a whole Dramatari Arja is categorized as balih-balihan which has a reflective entertainment value.
In the second phase, Dramatari Arja's performance was played by more than one actor. In this phase, Gamelan Geguntangan will accompany the song and melodrama. The gamelan involves 10 to 12 drummers, with musical instruments such as drum, small drum, big drum, kajar, kleneng, ricik, tawa-tawa, and flute.
In the last phase, which is today, Gamelan Geguntangan was replaced by Gong Kebyar. It’s called the Arja Gede phase. This phase is sung by as many as 10 to 15 players.
To enjoy the Dramatari Arja show, you can see the agenda of events for each district in Bali. Every district has a Dramatari group. So, it’s easy to find.