A Performance of Wayang Kulit: Ramayana


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Last weekend I went to The Consulate General, medstore Republic of Indonesia in Melbourne for a performance of ‘Wayang Kulit: Ramayana’ Shadow play show. It was great. I never seen a ‘Wayang Kulit’ from Java before, obesity this is the first time. I’ve seen one from Malaysia, originally shadow play is from Indonesia, but it’s part of Malaysian now because we have many Indonesian or Javanese who migrated from Indonesia long time ago.

I’m not so sure if the new generation do appreciate ‘Wayang Kulit’ as much as before. It’s less popular compare to going to cinema, shopping or just hanging around in Starbuck or shopping complex. These are the things that I guess ‘the young’ generation’ loves to do. My first wayang kulit show was in Penang. I’ve heard and read about it, but never had any chance to see it live. It is when the theater group in the universiti, I was studying (USM) organized to bring the ‘Tok Dalang’, the man who act behind the screen to perform ‘wayang Kulit’. That show was great! I couldn’t understand what he said because he speak mixture of Malay and Java language.

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Gamelan performance by PERMAI

In this ‘Wayang Kulit’ show, the Tok Dalang speak Javanese. I don’t understand at all what he said, as I can only speak Malay and Indonesia. I do understand the gesture, like when it’s funny or it’s seious. But that’s it. Before the show start, he describe about the story line for the ‘wayang Kulit’ and has been translated by a translater to English. The story is about the journey of Ramayana. A mystical story of Ramayana. There is six character in the show, which is Ramayana, his bestfriend, his wife, two of his bodyguard ( which act as a clown or joker ) and the monster.The begining of the story, Ramayana and his bodyguard started their journey to explore the world and left his wife in his kingdom guarded by his bestfriend. Then the monster kidnaped his wife and he with the help of his friend, fight to get his wife back. In between the scene regularly, there is few scene where the two bodyguard ( also act as a joker or clown ) talks about normal day life, issues happening around the world and many more. This scene is consider as ‘the real’ scene in Wayang Kulit. And the whole Ramayana scene is the ‘imagination and myth’ scene to add in flavour.


The whole show lasted for two hour. The Tok Dalang name is Ki Soemardi. The show also been accompanied by Permai (Friendship between the peoples of Australia and Indonesia) with Gamelan (traditional music instrument originally from Indonesia). The Indonesian Consulate are very kind to provide us some food and drinks for that night, which is so good. We had ‘Nasi Goreng dengan ayam goreng’ with dessert ‘Pulut Hitam’.

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