>TIME Asia Magazine: Puttin’ on the Myths — Mar. 15, 2004

>TIME Asia Magazine: Puttin’ on the Myths — Mar. 15, 2004

When a theater production bills itself as an epic, it’s usually nothing more than a publicist’s bombast. Yet when Robert Wilson’s I La Galigo premieres in Singapore on March 12, it will be literally true: the four-hour spectacle of song and dance, mantra and martial arts is based upon a classic of Indonesian literature, an epic poem almost unknown outside the archipelago until now. The poem, also called I La Galigo, survives in thousands of fragmentary manuscripts and was written in an archaic Indonesian language that maybe no more than 50 people today are able to understand. It runs to some 300,000 lines—roughly 20 times the length of Homer’s Odyssey—making it one of the longest literary works in existence. The creation myth of the Bugis people of South Sulawesi, I La Galigo (which takes its name from one of its protagonists) is a stirring saga of gods and demons and heroes, love sacred and profane, and the eternal struggle between good and evil.

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