Kawi dalang : creativity in wayang theatre
Sedana, I Nyoman
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The wayang puppet theatre is the oldest continuously performed theatrical form among the many genres of performing art in Bali. While wayang theatre has a fixed structure and stock dramatic characters, creativity and improvisation play a major role in the way the dalang puppet master shapes a performance. The dalang’s creativity serves as the ‘soul’ of wayang and has successfully been responsible for transmitting cultural traditions as well as reflecting contemporary social and political issues from one generation to another.|This dissertation examines the creativity and improvisation of the dalang puppeteer in the performance of Balinese wayang theatre. Due to the dynamic nature of its constituent parts it is possible to consider these innovations within a particular paradigm, that is Trisandi ‘the interplay of Genre-Scenario-Character.’|After outlining the mythology of wayang and providing a brief overview of the various types of wayang in Bali, the study explores the structural interplay within the organic elements of genre, story, and characters. Next is a chapter on the creativity in plot construction, recounting the process of selecting a play and transforming narration into dialogue, complemented by the six fundamental principles of constructing a play and originating the story. Then it explores other elements of creativity such as selecting puppets, naming the characters and locale of the action, puppet construction and manipulation, scenery and stage business, jokes and social criticism, creating puns or play on words, modifying and creating poetry, and making creative responses to any unexpected and expected happenings during a performance.|Integrated into Chaper 3 and 4 are two extensive examples of how puppeteers introduce creativity into a performance. The most recent example is a performance of dalang Wija, a respected puppet master in south Bali. In addition, the study discusses a performance of dalang Sudarma, a highly regarded exponent of wayang in the north Bali. Ultimately, this study may help to clarify a common misconception among western spectators and scholars alike, that Asian theatre forms are generally strictly codified and lack originality in content and form.