Traditional norms and values stood in the way of radical experimentation with the form of wayang until Indonesia's postcolonial era. The same impediments did not exist for colonial European artists. Edward Gordon Craig formulated his theories of the ūber-marionette with reference to wayang, while Richard Teschner adapted wayang puppets for his unique Viennese puppet theatre. This initial encounter of Europe with wayang articulated a pattern of colonial exploitation: Asian products were alienated from their producers and transported to Europe stripped of direct connections to the people and conditions from which they arose. The 1960s ushered in a new era of intercultural communication. A major inﬂux of Indonesian puppetry came to the United States when a generation of budding American puppet artists received direct tuition from Indonesian puppet masters at California summer schools in the early 1970s. Many subsequently went to Java and Bali themselves for lengthy periods of wayang study and apprenticeship. Some of these artists crossed traditional Indonesian puppets forms with other modes of practice to create complex hybrids. Much of the most interesting contemporary wayang work today is taking place along transnational axes. Wayang has been embraced by international artists and companies in order to tell idiosyncratic myths and celebrate the sacred and the ethereal.
Asian Theatre Journal – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Sep 26, 2007