About shadow puppetry

What is Wayang Kulit?

The word wayang refers to “shadows” while kulit translates to “leather”, the Picture1standard material of Balinese shadow puppets. A traditional night-time performance of wayang kulit is customarily lit by a single oil lamp with the shadow cast on a white cloth screen. Audience members can watch from either side of the screen, either to see the shadows, or to watch the dalang, the all-important puppeteer, and his technique more closely.

What is Wayang Listrik?

Wayang listrik is a recent development in Balinese shadow puppetry that began around the late 1990s. And while kulit means “leather” and refers to the puppets, listrik is the Indonesian word for “electric” or “electricity”, referring to the use of electric light projections on large screens, a key characteristic of wayang listrik performances.

Well-known dalang like I Ketut Kodi and I Madé Sidia, along with filmmaker-puppeteer and artistic director of ShadowLight Productions Larry Reed have experimented with this new media for wayang. Both Reed and Sidia’s contributions have made the form into what it is today, combining large screens, paintings, film, complex lighting, 3-dimensional effects, and dancers as well as shadow actors wearing masks carved in a similar manner as traditional wayang kulit puppets.

A new script has been composed by guest artist I Ketut Wirtawan, who draws upon many years of experience as a traditional wayang kulit puppeteer and dancer. In this production of wayang listrik, you will notice that the main characters, Subali and Sugriwa, will appear in three forms: as traditional wayang kulit puppets, as actors in shadow masks, and as actor-dancers in half-masks in front of the screen.

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