23 Jun 2013

Wayang Kulit at Rimbun Dahan

Kids have been attending several random workshops. I've just been lazy to blog about them.

1) Book Making workshop at Silverfish Books. It was an enjoyable workshop where they learnt the basics in building parts of a book. They also learned how to write a blurb.
2) A First Aid Workshop at St John's Ambulance, Klang.  The workshop was rather long, starting at 9am, going on till 5pm. However, it was an enjoyable and informative workshop. Children had some hands on experience, eg. carrying an injured person, various methods of bandaging (which they enjoyed), CPR and of course, they loved the part where they got to try chest compressions on a dummy.
3) A Comic Writing workshop with a comic artist. Again it was a basic workshop where they learned about building a character, setting and structure (I think...I didn't sit in.)

I know they went for a few more, but can't seem to recall at the moment.
Yesterday we added Wayang Kulit (Shadow Puppet) to the list of field trips. The workshop was held at Rimbun Dahan, a beautiful place with lovely gardens.

Nutmeg tree

Exploring the garden

The younger wanted to see if water lilies were waterproof.

The first part of the workshop was learning about the different characters that made up the Wayang Kulit, the history behind it, the different types of Wayang Kulit, the music and source. The performers leading the workshop were really generous with information, willing to share everything they knew. They also told us that anyone's welcomed  to watch their rehearsals every Wednesday night at Rumah Pena.

The second part of the workshop was where the children went on to painting and making their own puppets.

Talking about the characters

Looking through the amazing variety of shadow puppets. All tediously crafted by hand. They say that creating a detailed one takes an average  of one month per puppet! Process involves preparing cowhide, drawing the character on the skin in detail, then slowly chiseling bits  off to create the intricate designs, followed by painting.

Wayang Kulit Show 8:30 pm

A moonlit sky greeted us as we returned to Rimbun Dahan for the night Wayang Kulit Show. Insects were at their loudest and the children were thrilled to be in such an environment again. Nel in fact, wished that she'd be allowed to camp there.

The people in charge had beautifully lit the path towards the outdoor show. Jo thought it was like we were in a magical fairy realm, and it certainly felt like it. So we lingered near the lights, allowing my children to soak in the ambience that sparked their imagination.
little lamps that lit the path

When we got to the theater ground, the stage was set and all the puppets lined up. They had placed large woven mats across the garden for audience to relax and enjoy the show.

We watched as the musicians warmed up, many of them, for some reason, smoked their pipes before the show began. Wonder what was in those pipes, didn't really like the smell.
A musician warming up on the Serunai. The Serunai which is heard throughout the performance. This was miked up, and was too loud for Nel who's always been sensitive to loud sounds.

Below is the Tok Dalang, the main person behind the show. He alone controls all the puppets, and tells the story. A lot of his story was told in a Kelantanese accent, making it a little hard for me to understand some parts.

Several times during the show, the children ran towards the side to see what went on behind the scene. I did too, and thought it was just fascinating watching the music ensemble and the way the Tok Dalang controlled his puppets.
Children on the right taking a peek at what happens behind the screen.

The Story we watched yesterday was taken from an "episode in the Kelantanese Ramayan epic in which Dewi is kidnapped by Bota Maharaja Rawana. The Maharaja Sri Rama asks for help from his son Harimau Kera Putih. A clash between Harimau Kera Putih and Maharaja Rawana follows in which Harimau Kera Putih becomes the victor." Quote taken from here.

Scene from when the bad character kidnapped the princess.

Overall, both Nel and Jo enjoyed the afternoon session where they got to make puppets, and most of all, they enjoyed exploring, looking through and playing with the original shadow puppets.

As for the night show, Jo loved it. She watched attentively, asked a ton of questions about the plot, sometimes dancing with the music, sometimes lip synching! haha...  I kinda guessed she'd like it, after all, she's watched an entire opera in German (3 hours on VCD), multiple times!

Nel was more like me. I was tempted to head home after the initial excitement wore off, and when the show dragged on past one hour. But I sat for the sake of Jo.
Nel who sat several feet behind us (coz she couldn't take the loud sound of the amplified music) enjoyed the first bit. By the middle bit, I turned around to see her flat on her back looking at the stars. She got up a bit to take some shots of backstage and the moon, then lay down again. Three quarters into the show, I turned to see her flat on her tummy, almost knocked out. hahaha....

All in all, it was certainly an unforgettable experience. My children and I learnt so much from half day at the show than what we would have from history books. That's the beauty of hands on learning. And it was certainly a unique and worthwhile experience, something I'd highly recommend.

(Below is a short video clip from the scene where Harimau Kera Putih and Maharaja Rawana fight.)

Video 1.

video 2. (unsure what this part is about, but listen to the Dalang's voice as he goes "Ohhhhwoi!" Yeah, that part of the dialogue my kids remember. haha..

@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2013



gail said...

More fun learning!

Those puppets are amazing. The color comes right through the screen.

Divoo said...

Wow, Martha! What a wonderful show it must have been! The workshops that your girls are attending are very different and cool. Great pictures. That moon picture is gorgeous!

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