Friday, April 3, 2009

Wayang Kancil at LIP

Papermoon Puppet Theatre, a Yogyakarta-based puppet theatre run by energetic puppeteer-children's book author Ria, held its third 'birthday' party at LIP (Lembaga Indonesia-Perancis) last night (2/4/09). Ria over the last months has become close to Ledjar Subroto and his grandson Nanang and engaged them to perform wayang kancil - as a sort of preparation for their upcoming tour of Europe.

Nanang gave a 25 minute show with Mexican puppeteer Carla Pedroza (who has also worked with Papermoon) - a rendering of a Kancil Mencuri Ketimun in which Kancil is accompanied by a Mexican horse and steal the timun and other vegetables of Pak Tani. The horse insists on singing after eating and is beaten by Pak Tani - proving his stupidty. Most of the show was in Indonesian, but Nanang (who played both Kancil and Pak Tani) also used Javanese particularly for comments addressed at the audience that made fun of the Mexican horse. A laptop played synthesized gamelan accompaniment and Nanang provided the kendang sounds by mouth.

Ledjar then took the stage for a 40 minute show. Beginning with a tembang (from Serat Kancil) which he interspersed with comments and translation (hewan = binatang etc) he gave a rendering of another classic Kancil tale in which a water buffalo helps a crocodile across a river and in the middle the crocodile tries to eat the samaritan. Kancil comes and saves the day by trickery. The brief narrative allowed Ledjar a chance to talk about Kancil (formerly used for moral instruction, it now is important for teaching about lingkungan), allude to the audience (including wayang I have ordered from him), meditate on Javanese culture (children don't know wayang now, which is why it is important to do Kancil), comment on the conditions of performance (no food and drink allowed in the LIP auditorium, but God how I need a beer right now) and his own location in the world (Ledjar performs more often abroad than he does in Indonesia).

Both Nanang and Ledjar did not use a screen - which allowed the beautiful colours of the dekor (trees, plants, grass, the river) to shine and also (according to Ledjar) allowed a direct relation and communication with the children in the audience (who mostly sat on the floor in front).

The gracious audience laughed at even the smallest of jokes and Ledjar was treated as a celebrity - with lots of people taking his picture before and after the show.

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