Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Mapag Sri/Pandwa Nyawah

Just finished doing back-to-back performances of Mapag Sri/Pandwa Nyawah, an annual ritual wayang kulit drama performed in rice-farming villages around Cirebon and Indramayu. It felt really good to be performing to village audiences again-- and some of the accompanying musicians were absolutely first-rate musicians. The second performance got some qualified praise - 'once you straighten out your suluk, you'll be thumbs up'. There were also occasional comments of 'magas' (spot on) from the musicians in response to my puppet voices during the performance itself.

I used mapag sri as an opportunity to discuss organic farming - inspired largely by my friend Bramantyo (who is now an organic farmer in Ngawi) and an UGM documentary on organic farming in Indramayu titled Bisa Dewek (really worth seeing!).

There have been many influences from 'wayang wetan' (Solo style wayang) in Cirebon over the last 5 years, and I felt a bit more free as a result to include sine Solonese element - including an ada-ada girisa in my first show, and a Limbukan in both shows.

My wayang awan (day-time shows) often attract attention, but one thing that was new to me was the use of cell phone cameras, video etc. Everyone was taking pictures of my performance - even the pesinden - and the evening dalang (Nono) suggested that I hire a videographer to record my next wayang awan show. He does this for his own shows regularly. When I made my first videos of wayang back in 1994, practically none of the puppeteers had ever seen recorded images of themselves. Times change.

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