Sunday, August 25, 2013

Wayang World Puppet Carnival set to entertain

As home to traditional wayang puppets, an art listed as a UNESCO cultural heritage, Indonesia will host the first Wayang World Puppet Carnival (WWPC), which will feature participants from 46 countries.

The event, which will run from Sept. 1 to 8, is jointly organized by the Indonesian Puppeteers Association (Pepadi) and Arsari Djojohadikusumo Foundation and will feature a total of 64 puppeteer groups that will perform at the National Museum, National Monument, Usmar Ismail Hall and Taman Mini.

“Indonesia has so many kinds of wayang, and through this event, we want to show the world the variety of wayang that we have,” Pepadi chairman Ekotjipto said at a press conference recently.

In addition, he said, the event was also expected to boost confidence among wayang puppeteers with the knowledge that they were not alone but part of something big.

“Most importantly, we hope the event can help instill passion for local culture among young people.”

The idea of organizing WWPC emerged after Pepadi took part in the World Puppet Carnival (WPC) in Almity, Kazakhstan, in September last year. Realizing the potential that Indonesia had, Ekotjipto wanted to hold a similar event in the archipelago.

“Kazakhstan is smaller than Indonesia, and only 20 years old, yet, they were able to hold an international event like WPC because the government paid great attention to the development of culture,” Eko said.

Pepadi then asked Rod Petrovic, WPC’s artistic director, to help organize WWPC. Petrovic was in charge of inviting and coordinating the international participants performing at the event.

The participants are from Argentina, Brazil, Bangladesh, Colombia, Egypt, France, Germany, the Czech Republic, India, Greece, Italy, Thailand, Spain and the United States.

While Indonesia will be represented by five groups, namely Cahyo Kuntadi, Hadi Sutikno, Apep Hudaya, Sigid Ariyanto and Sihono. The Cahyo Kuntadi group also took part in WPC in Kazakhstan last year and won the best drama category.

Ekotjipto said the themes of the performances will vary, ranging from fables, Greek mythology, drama and comedy.

Petrovic said the WWPC would also feature movie screenings, seminars and workshops that will see the involvement of many international puppeteers.

“International participants love wayang. Many of them have never seen it in person, only on TV. So they’re very excited to see it here,” he said.

He added that through the series of the events, foreign participants could also gain a deeper understanding of wayang as well as the philosophy and also about Indonesia itself.

“I have to say that it’s not cheap to participate in this. Some groups really wanted to participate, but they couldn’t because of the cost,” Petrovic said.

During the event, all performances and movie screenings will also be assessed by a panel of judges for several categories, such as best animation, best actor, best director, best puppet design and best original show. They will also compete to win the grand prize of US$ 10,000 (Rp 110 million).

Wayang performance was recognized as an oral heritage masterpiece by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on Nov. 7, 2003.

The wayang shadow play, which was first developed by the Javanese during the Hindu-Buddhist era, was traditionally used as a tool for disseminating cultural values. The tradition then later spread to many parts of the archipelago.

According to the Indonesian National Wayang Secretariat — known by the acronym Sena Wangi — there are about 60 different types of wayang in the country, including Banjar wayang and Palembang wayang, which were included in the revitalization and preservation programs carried out by Sena Wangi and UNESCO from 2005 to 2007. (Jakarta Post)

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