A full-length traditional wayang kulit performance is set to take place alongside a more contemporary version this Saturday at Dataran Medan Pasar. For the first time in Kuala Lumpur, Kumpulan Wayang Kulit Sri Warisan Pusaka will be presenting the art for free to the public in a night dedicated to wayang kulit.
A form of traditional theatre found throughout South-east Asia, wayang kulit is performed by projecting shadows of puppets against a screen. Though recent revivals have seen the medium tell modern sagas like Star Wars, wayang kulit has often been focused on Malay oral and literary versions of the Ramayana, an ancient Hindu epic.
It’s worth noting that a lot of the wayang kulit we’ve been exposed to in the city and the suburbs are barely anything like their original forms, which run for hours and hours at length.
Hailing from Machang, Kumpulan Wayang Kulit Sri Warisan Pusaka is currently led by senior disciples of the late Tok Dalang Abdullah Ibrahim (also known as Dollah Baju Merah), namely Tok Dalang Nawi and master musician Abdul Rahman bin Dollah. Their performance will last for five hours!
Having actively involved themselves in training programs organised by non-profit culture warriors PUSAKA, Kumpulan Wayang Kulit Sri Warisan Pusaka has also performend internationally, and earlier this year was invited on a month-long residency tour around the US!
Also performed on the same night is Wayang Nan dan Ah Lu by award-winning arts organisation ACX Productions, which has been actively advocating the inclusion of culture and heritage in local performing arts.
A stark contrast to Kumpulan Wayang Kulit Sri Warisan Pusaka’s five-hour epic, ACX’s fantastical version of wayang kulit kicks off the night in full Mandarin glory and will run for only 30 minutes! Expect elves, spirits, animals and some elements of magic from this experimental collective.
Malam Wayang is an all-night performance in celebration of the new year, so admission to both events are free!
Malam Wayang is organised by ThinkCity and DBKL in partnership with Lab DNA and PUSAKA, sponsored by Citi Foundation.