Craving for much needed enthusiasm? Worn out from the mainstream clubbing nights, bored of watching a movie screening or even having one of those “gossiping-gorging” episodes with your girlfriends whilst piling on the calories? (Note- a moment on the lips is a lifetime on the hips ladies) Feel like doing something that is exciting, different and indeed a great kick start to your long-awaited weekend off, in other words, desperate to have a couple hours away from the beautiful jungle view and the fresh air that welcomes you EVERY morning?
NO FEAR SHAKESPEARE, SHADOW PUPPETS ARE HERE, though in Malaysia, this traditional form of theatre is most commonly known as the “Wayang Kulit”.
As a Malaysian, I believe my country is rich in culture and traditions due to the array of different races and beliefs that make up this diverse nation. On many occasions, Malaysians, like myself, only come across a fraction of the endless variety of culture we have in this country and ‘Wayang kulit’ is one of the not-so-commonly known cultural arts in Malaysia since the modern-day boom of instant entertainment, in this ever so technological world, took over.
There was an event held in Publika that showcased the photography efforts of Eddin Khoo who is the director of “Pusaka”, an organization dedicated to preserving traditional art and culture in Malaysia. Khoo has recorded this traditional art of shadow puppets for about 23 years. His artistic taste was showcased at the event which illustrated an insight on the complexities and beauty of the shadow puppets. The event revolved around images that focused on the minute details of how these shadows tell a different story. The shadow puppets, which are constructed from leather, can create either a sense of suspense or intensity towards the audience throughout the performance.
In addition, the showcase also featured a live special performance of ‘Wayang Kulit’ which was headed by a team of ‘Wayang Kulit’ performers from the state of Kelantan. In my eyes, this event enlightened a new perspective to gain more insight of the traditional forms of art that this exotic country I call home has to offer.
‘Wayang Kulit’ is a traditional form of theatre in the Malay culture that hailed from neighbouring Indonesia. In Malaysia, it is mostly performed in the outskirts of Malaysia at rural villages predominantly in the East Coast whereby the performances are performed outdoors under the glistening stars with constant blows of the fresh-rural night breeze greeting you. The application of light and shadows breathe life into the puppet characters which are operated by the man of the show, the main puppeteer, known as the “Dalang”. He is the storyteller that creates the voices of the characters and showcases stories that primarily revolve around philosophical lessons, rituals and traditional tales. In addition, the performances are accompanied by an orchestra, known as “The gamelan”, with the Dalang singing to the cues to bring out a more vibrant atmosphere.
Eager to grasp more about this intricate form of art? In other words, if you’re looking for a “Wayang Kulit” 101 for dummies site, you can discover all about it on this available link below.