I have been rehearsing the last week or so with a small group of puppeteers (led by Catur 'Benyek' Kuncoro), music and scenic designers and the producer/curator Alia Swastika a wayang kontemporer based on the cartoons of Eko Nugroho, and using puppets of his design.
The performance of this new shadow puppet play - with the puppeteers doubling as actors - will take place at Rumah Seni Cemeti on 5 March.
The same group (more-or-less) produced another play with the same puppets in Jakarta some months ago. Catur was unhappy with the result - primarily as he felt that the script did not allow him much scope for creativity - and decided to abandon this play and create a new work with his own script.
Rehearsals began slowly with two days of formless discussion, but have taken off. Time however is short - and Alia has pushed for the performance to be an 'event' rather than a finished aesthetic product. In a discussion yesterday with a cultural anthropology from UGM yesterday (3 March), I learned that Yogya has a 'workshop culture' - lots of events, often under-prepared, celebratory rather than critical. This anthropologist pointed out that projects such as Teater Garasi's 'stone age' series of performances - in which one theme is systematically explored and developed over a long period of time - are rare. He suggested that Yogya artists in order to succeed need to leave Yogya, and that the workshop culture is more of benefit to outsiders than to Yogya residents themselves - as they do not lead to further developments.
Lots to think about.