Ketoprak is a popular traditional theatre accompanied by gamelan music, the dialogue sometimes alternated by songs. Probably it is like operetta but with more dialogue.
The stories exposed are usually from Javanese ancient kingdoms. The more popular folklore very oftenly staged are :
- The story of Damarwulan, a brief Majapahit soldier who successfully could defeat Minakjinggo , a rebel-regent from Blambangan. at the happy ending he became the husband of Majapahit's Queen.
- The story of Jaka Tingkir, the boy of the village of Tingkir, his name was Mas Karebet. At the beginning he served the kingdom of Demak as a low ranking soldier. He got chances to prove his ability in fighting, mastering martial art of self defense. Sultan/King Trenggono was very impressed of his skill and loyalty, took him as his son-in-law. Jaka Tingkir then was appointed to be Sultan successor and crowned as Sultan Hadiwijaya. He moved the capital of Demak to Pajang, west of Solo.
- The story of Panembahan Senopati , the first ruler of the second Mataram Kingdom, his struggle to power, how did he manage Mataram, last but not least: his love affairs.
Sultan Agung, The Greatest King of Mataram Dynasty with his famous right-hand advisor and chief warrior Prince Purboyo.
Except those heroic knights, there are also legends exposing love affairs such as Pronocitro and Roro Mendut, a kind Javanese style of Romeo and Juliet.
In Ketoprak performance, there is always an amusing act by jokers to keep the performance vivid.
The Ketoprak was born around the year 1920 in Solo but reached its peak in Yogyakarta in 1950. It was created by artist from outside the palace wall, where the commoners were proud to play on the stage as kings, prime ministers, warriors, princes and princesses. In its development Ketoprak was also enjoyed by the elite.
The original music accompanied Ketoprak were rice pestle and mortar. The sound of rice pestles beating mortar: prak, prak, prak is where the name Ketoprak from.
Nowadays Ketoprak performance is accompanied by gamelan music.
(Suryo S. Negoro)