File puptcrit/puptcrit.0602, message 322

Date: Tue, 28 Feb 2006 12:59:08 -0600
Subject: [Puptcrit] Moslem puppeteers and Danish comics controversy


I asked Kitse Emerson, a gamelan musician living in Indonesia, (currently arranging a summer US tour for Mas Purbo - a great javanese dalang), if the dalang in Java were discussing the Danish Comics controversy in their shows. (In a wayang, the clown characters frequently discuss current events in the goro-goro section) Her response:

Hi Dan,

Haven't heard a word about it--I;ve been to a number of mas Purbo's
performances, a performance by mas Sri joko Raharjo, two by mas Jungkung,
and one by mas Eka Soenarso--not a word at any of those. And in general,
people I know just aren't talking about it much.....don't know exactly why."

I'm surprised at this myself. In 1999 I did a translation of a wayang golek menak performance where the dalang made frequent allusions to topical events in the moslem world - at the time of the performance, 1985, the Iran-Iraq war was raging, and the story the Ki Sindu Jotaryono chose to perform was "Jobin Balik" - "the Traitor Jobin", and basically revolves around a war between two Moslem nations.

Perhaps the reason dalang in Java don't want to weigh in is that they have historically been moderate moslems (after all, they tell Hindu stories for a living), who haven't had it easy in these polarized times. 

My book, "The Traitor Jobin", is hard to find and not even available on Amazon. Might be a copy in a good university library. I'll try and put the translation up on the web if folks are interested. 


On Tuesday, February 28, 2006, at 12:01PM, Kathy Foley <> wrote:

>Regarding the response of puppeteers in Indonesia to current rioting, 
>I was recently interviewed by the Jakarta Post (the main English 
>language newspaper).  They were doing an article on Asep Sunandar, a 
>dalang and friend of mine who had come out against the rioting and 
>name-calling in his puppet shows.  I got the impression from the 
>reporter that he was rather exceptional in this stance, and that many 
>artists were laying low rather than engaging with the issue (but of 
>course, this was a Jakarta based person so she may not be a reliable 
>source for what is really going on).  I merely pointed out that I had 
>seen Asep and his family take on routinely big and messy political 
>issues and always try to address them with common sense that 
>protected the little people.  What is going on in Indonesia as in our 
>own country is a use of fear and hate to divide and gain political 
>power.  Religion, there and here, is often being used in modes which 
>are unethical. It is nice to see that puppeteers can rise above the 
>fray and deliver sense with a sense of humor.
>Kathy Foley
>Professor, Theatre Arts
>1156 High Street
>Theater Arts Center
>Santa Cruz, CA 95064
>831-459-4189 (o.)
>831-459-3552 (fax)
>List address:
>Admin interface:
List address:
Admin interface:


Driftline Main Page


Display software: ArchTracker © Malgosia Askanas, 2000-2005