Adapt Wayang to Appeal to Modern Kids, And Nation Will Benefit, Minister Says

The Jakarta Globe
Adapt Wayang to Appeal to Modern Kids, And Nation Will Benefit, Minister Says

Wayang puppet theater can be used to promote integrity of spirit in the nation’s youth and performances should be presented in a way that fits modern times, the culture and tourism minister said on Wednesday. 

Launching the 2011 Indonesian Wayang Festival (FWI), Jero Wacik said wayang performances could be used to build character because they were deep with meaning. 

“Nowadays, wayang performances are not very popular with the younger generation,” he said. “They need to know that wayang stories are actually rich in philosophical value that can help to build the nation’s character.”

“When I was young, entertainment choices were very limited and wayang shows were one of the few things we had,” he continued. “I really enjoyed watching the performances because I learned so much.

“Therefore, it is very important to find a way to present wayang performances according to the times. We must not neglect our culture just because it appears old-fashioned, especially because wayang was recognized as Intangible Cultural Heritage by Unesco in 2003.” 

The minister referred to the United Nations’ cultural body. 

“We can make animations and videos of wayang, for instance,” he said. “It would really help to get the attention of the young generation because it appears interesting.” 

Suparmin Sunjoyo, the head of the FWI committee, said wayang could be presented to the young generation in a number of ways.

“Through this festival, we want to introduce wayang to the young generation and also revive some puppets that have disappeared, such as Palembang wayang.” Suparmin said. 

“We do not want wayang to disappear from Indonesian culture because our young people have lost interest.” 

Suparmin said he was encouraged that there were many children who wanted to learn how to puppet masters, or dalang. 

Galih, 12, who has been learning how to be a dalang for the past two years, said there was something about wayang that reminded him of his great grandfather.

“My great grandfather is a puppet master and I want to be like him,” Galih said. “It is fun to learn how to be a puppeteer because I can learn the wayang stories and Javanese.” 

The 2011 FWI is being held by the Indonesian Wayang Secretariat (Senawangi) and the Indonesian Puppeteers Association (Pepadi). Performances will be held at the Wayang Building in East Jakarta in July and October, with domestic and foreign participants. 

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