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STAGE BUS ON TOUR IN GREECE Sep 22, 2004 top of page
Robyan Easty writes from Athens
Myself and Harina had the privilege of going on the road for part of the Stage bus tour of the Peloponnese jointly sponsored by the Cultural Olympiad and the Indonesian Ministry of Culture. It was conceived and organised by Mikhail David and his wife Ary Sutedja, springing out of the great success of the JakArt Festivals and this year's Festival a la Carte, which took the Stage bus on a tour of 15 Indonesian towns and involved around 500 performers. The Greek tour included Subud members Marcia Coleman, Viviana Bulow-Hube's daughter, and Luluk Purwanto, famous Jazz violinist.


Luluk came with a quartet (photo) led by her pianist husband Rene van Helsdingen and including a top bass player, Essiet Okon Essiet and top drummer Marcello Pellitteri, from New York. Check them out at

Marcia came from Denmark with her partner, Moussa, an electric bass player and his group of 3 musicians originating from Mali. Two of them play the Kora, which has 20 strings set in a V formation and a gourd-like sound-box and is played somewhat like a harp. Check them out on

Rene (also opened) commissioned the Stage bus, got the necessary licence to drive it and supervises all the setting up, doing many of the jobs himself. He is a truly remarkable person. After hours of setting up the stage and the two screens (shadow puppets and back projection), the sound system, etc, Rene changes his clothes, comes out and plays exquisite jazz piano, a completely transformed person. Then he has to pull everything down, working into the small hours.

Luluk and the trio first did an 8-day stint in Athens with the smaller Stage Bus - yes, there are two - and then joined the tour. Two talented young dalangs did wyang shadow puppet performances. A group of dancers and musicians from Kalimantan came for the second half of the tour. There were also two pretty and graceful dancers, one from Bali and the other from East Java. The audiences were very appreciative, many staying afterwards to ask questions.

There were historical towns, small towns, big towns, friendly town officials, unfriendly town officials (more of the former, fortunately). The Cultural Olympiad were supportive and cooperative, but Mikhail and Ary also had to cope with politicians trying to use the programme in nasty political games. Physically and emotionally gruelling, but for me this series of projects from the first JakArt festival to the current tour of Greece is the best example of Subud folk working determinedly with others to promote the arts, broaden people's artistic experience and bring people from different nations closer together.

By the end of the tour we said our good byes to the Stage Bus sadly. Personally, I hope that a way can be found to bring the Stage Bus to the congress in Innsbruck, continuing its tradition of making no distinction between those in Subud and those not.