from The Jakarta Post, November 3, 2007



    A fusion between a traditional wayang (shadow puppet) performance and modern technology impressed Jakartans during two shows at Graha Bhakti Budaya hall in the Taman Ismail Marzuki cultural center in Cikini, Central Jakarta.

    The performance, called Wayang Listrik (electric puppet), amused the audience with its funny and critical dialogue presented by one of Bali’s most accomplished puppet masters, I Made Sidia. 

    Sidia presented a provocative show and proved to his audience that a traditional performance,which might usually be unappealing to youngsters, can be entertaining. 

    The 40-year-old puppeteer kept the audience laughing with his innovative jokes in both  English and Kawi, an ancient Javanese language. 

    In his Thursday performance at the hall, Sidia mocked Malaysia over its recent dispute with Indonesia over the use of the traditional Indonesian song Rasa Sayange in Malaysia’s tourism campaign.

    In Sidia’s Tualen’s Journey story,Tualen, the main character, meets a wild tiger on his travels that he tries to tame by singing the Indonesian national anthem, Indonesia Raya

    However, the tiger becomes angry upon hearing Tualen using the anthem.  Tualen then says: “You must be a Malaysian tiger then, huh?” 

    Sidia said he used jokes like this to deliver  criticism about social and political issues.

    “The country is facing panca baya (five threats) — water, such as in floods; fire, which includes global warming; theft; enemies, both national and international; and, the most dangerous of all, the threat from within ourselves,”he said.

    Tualen’s Journey, he said, is based on the Ramayana, in which Tualen is the loyal servant of Ayodya Kingdom’s crown prince Rama Dewa.         

    Tualen, who sacrificed his life to serve Rama, helped the prince on his journey to look for his beloved wife Dewi Sita, who was kidnapped by Rahwana, the king of Alengka. However, on the journey Tualen realized that he, too, was searching for his own love and respect. 

    Unlike wayang performances, Sidia incorporates modern technology, such as the use of  projectors and electric musical instruments, to bring his show to life. 

    The story even incorporates modern vehicles, such as a bulldozer, motorcycles and cars, which Tualen uses on his journey. 

    Sidia and five other puppeteers make use of skateboards to move their puppets around faster than the traditional wayang. Sidia has gained international recognition for his work and has played in numerous countries, including Germany, Australia, the U.S., Switzerland, the Netherlands and Denmark. (adt)

JP/P.J. Leo

(photo caption)

SIMPLY PUPPETS: Puppet masters grouped in the Electric Shadow Puppet Theater perform at the fifth Art Summit Indonesia at the Taman Ismail Marzuki cultural center in Central Jakarta on Friday. The innovative show combined traditional puppetry with modern digital imaging technology.

The Jakarta Post  Jakarta