Wayang Kulit (Shadow Puppet Theatre) traditionally uses a naked flame to cast the shadows of puppets onto a white screen. A skilled puppet master would engage audiences with their skills and storytelling, igniting their imaginations.
These days not much is left to the imagination; TV & film have numbed us to a degree. Certainly a younger audience would find traditional puppet theatre somewhat boring. Therefore, to engage a modern audience, Pak Sidia’s team employs a number of modern techniques…
Arriving at Pak Made Sidia’s home: his team sit preparing for the show. They are making creatures typically found in a healthy Sawah (rice field) such as dragonflies, birds, grasshoppers & butterflies. However, they are not making traditional puppets, they are making what I will call, ‘reflection puppets’.
First the creatures are drawn onto a laminated piece of Perspex with a mirrored back. Then, using a blade, they cut out the shape of the creature and the mirror is exposed. Taking a permanent marker they then draw on the details.
To test out our new creations, we set up a small white screen and a light source which is directly aimed at the puppeteers. The puppeteers hold up their mirrored creatures and the light reflects onto the screen. By bending and moving the Perspex they are able to manipulate the reflections, bringing the creatures to life…Winged creatures begin to fly and animals run. It looks amazing. If you bend the Perspex in enough, the reflection flips, instantly the creature faces the other way.
We all play with the reflections for some time and work on making more. At 11pm everyone is fading, we disappear into the night to get some rest for more puppet production tomorrow.