Shadow puppetry, or wayang, has been drawing crowds for over half a millennium with its distinctly Indonesian music, intricately carved protagonists, riot of color and plots based on ancient fables with their moral messages or stories from religious texts such as the Ramayana.
Now, puppet master Ki Sigit Sabdo Prijono is hoping to promote this age-old tradition, which has been recognized by the U.N.'s cultural agency UNESCO as a masterpiece of humanity, across borders by making it more understandable to foreigners.
He is also hoping to reach a younger, more Westernized generation of Indonesians who often turn to television, video games and the Internet for entertainment.
"We still use a Javanese wayang story but we tell it in English," explains 41-year-old Prijono, who first performed in English at the University of Michigan in the United States, where he has worked as a lecturer since 2003.
"There is no problem at all as far as communication as long as people know what wayang is and they know who is Rama and who is Sita," he added, referring to stories in the sacred Hindu text, the Ramayana, which he enjoys performing.