Cultural studies are perhaps one of my favorite parts of learning a new language. My school put together a Lunar New Year celebration today and even though Indonesia doesn’t celebrate that particular holiday, one of the teachers in our department was persuaded to give a short presentation on a form of shadow puppet theater called wayang kulit. The picture above (courtesy of Wikipedia) gives some idea as to what one of the performances looks like if you’re unfamiliar with it.
The teacher who spoke about wayang is a Javanese puppetmaster. He showed us a few of the puppets and explained the skills needed for putting on a performance. Not only must you be a skilled storyteller and singer, but you need to be able to sit in one place for as long as nine hours without a break and conduct a small orchestra… with your feet.
I want to see a performance once I’m familiar enough with the language to follow along. The puppets themselves are beautiful and I can only imagine what all of the elements put together would be like.