Friday, May 1, 2009

Wayang kulit at Sono Budoyo

I am performing a wayang kulit at the Sono Budoyo museum on 11 May, and in preparation for this visited a tourist performance of a Ramayana play on 28 April. These abbreviated performances, which run about 2 hours, are held nightly - though sometimes they are cancelled for lack of visitors, it was explained. The company has three dalang in it - who take turns performing. (The dalang not performing play gamelan - apparently the drummer at this performnace was the best of the three dalang.)

Tickets for the show cost Rp20,000. Nearly everyone attending was a foreign tourist - with a few guides along for the ride. While a leaflet was handed out at the start, there seemed to be little comprehension of what was going on. Many were more interested in getting pictures than in seeing a dramatic performance. The gong player encouraged a young boy to step into the gamelan so he could photograph the simpingan from up close. While some of the audience sat and watched the puppets, they were encouraged to go round back and watch the shadows. Not everyone stayed for the whole show.

I found the performance to be dutiful rather than spirited, and with one or two exceptions was very conventional. A slip by the pesinden in the execution of the gending dolanan Slendang Biru during the goro-goro gave the puppeteer a chance to rib her - which caused the gamelan players to laugh. Otherwise there was very little humour.

There was also a stand outside of the venue (a small air conditioned hall) where wayang making was demonstrated before and after show. I presume there were also puppets for sale - but didn't get a chance to see this myself.

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