Trying to Dalang: A Wayang Kulit Workshop

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Yesterday at work we had an interesting international group of parents and students from Japan, the land of the Rising Sun. So the team of us who were assembled 3 weeks ago, made them the modern day Dalang with paper puppets and stop motion techniques.

Why Dalang? Well in the classical theater of Wayang Kulit, a dalang is the lead puppeteer who sitting behind the scene would animate each puppet while telling a story. These stories were either epic tales of Rama from the Ramayana or the Mahabharata… or as the arts evolved with the infusion of culture and religion — the adventurous tales of Amir Hamza and his search for the True Faith.

Traces of Wayang Kulit too can be found as predating as far as the golden age of the ancient Greeks. However, for the Malaysians, this form of art originates from Java with hints of Hinduism and Buddhism in its design.

Taking that as our basis, we formed a workshop wherein our visitors could decorate their wayang kulit puppets with some Malaysian motif designs commonly found in arts or batik. Which then later is animated using stop motion techniques. Our visitors seemed very intrigued by this idea as it was something new for them and got really competitive with designing and later on in their animating.

Of course I could not allow myself to be left out without preparing a demo piece for “showing off”. And so, for my set of designs (a little over ambitious I was) I chose to prepare three of the five characters that were available for the workshop and using Artline Stix and Artline Pens to doodle away and colour to create contrasts and spice.

And once it was complete, it was time to animate it and here was my final outcome!

Animated with voiceover by my colleague and friend, Hamzah

Overall it was a joyous event of learning and exploring with colour and motion. Perhaps in the future, we could try other forms of cultural arts and see how we can creatively infuse them with our modern-day tools and techniques!

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