The fourth Indonesia Wayang Festival 2014, which is due to kick off at the Wayang Museum in the Old Town area in West Jakarta on Friday, will present a wayang orang (classical dance drama) performance with video-mapping technology in an effort to attract younger people to the event.
Head of the festival committee, Sumardi, said the visual effects were a new feature at this year’s festival.
“This year, we hope we can attract more young people. We want to bring them closer to tradition, especially wayang,” he told The Jakarta Post over the phone on Thursday.
Dwi Sulastri from the Wayang Orang Swargaloka theater said the technology would be used during their group’s performance, which will close the festival on Sunday evening.
“Hopefully, we can excite youngsters so that they will come to appreciate wayang theater, which has received global recognition,” she said in a statement.
The three-day festival, which is free of charge, will treat visitors to an array of traditional and contemporary wayang performances from across the country.
Popular shadow puppet shows such as wayang purwa and Sundanese wayang golek (wooden puppets) are on the schedule. The festival also boasts contemporary wayang performances, such as wayang kancil, which uses animal characters, wayang joblar, wayang beber metropolitan and wayang urban revolusi, which combines monologues, dialogue, acting, songs and dances.
Other performances will include wayang cirebon, wayang orang Betawi and wayang bhineka tunggal ika. Young visitors can also join photography, wayang coloring and storytelling competitions, while others can visit the bazaar, workshops and exhibition, which is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sumardi said he was optimistic that the festival would attract a large number of visitors, saying that wayang would never cease, despite modernization. The festival welcomes around 50,000 visitors annually.
“People may think that our younger generation only love modern pop culture from overseas, but we don’t think so. Many young people are interested in wayang,” he said.
Sumardi, who is also the museum’s head of collections and maintenance, said interest could be seen in the increasing number of student visitors to the museum, as well as the various festivals that nurtured the talent of young puppeteers and public performances that still attracted large audiences.
The Total Indonesia Foundation collaborated with the Indonesian Puppeteers Association (Pepadi) and the Indonesian Puppetry Society (Sena Wangi) to present the festival.
Head of the foundation, Eddy Mulyadi, said the main challenge for preserving the wayang tradition was the ability to adapt to the modern world without losing its originality.
At least seven senior puppet masters and two teenage puppet masters were set to entertain visitors to the Old Town, he said, adding that some of the senior puppet masters were traveling from Bandung and Cirebon in West Java, Malang in East Java and Bali to perform at the festival.
One of the anticipated shows is a performance by renowned wayang purwa (leather puppet) puppeteer Ki Purbo Asmoro, which will be on the main stage during the opening ceremony on Friday at 7 p.m.
Various efforts to preserve the wayang tradition were launched after UNESCO recognized it as an intangible cultural heritage form in 2010. In more recent years, Jakarta has hosted a number of wayang performances.