The wayang or shadow puppet is the most prominent theatrical
expressions in Bali. In a wayang kulit performance, flat
cut-out figures are silhouetted against a translucent, white
screen, with a coconut-husk lamp as its source of light.
It is mostly expressions or enactments of religious mythology
blended into one with historical facts that will keep a
Balinese entertained all night long.
These wayang figures are manipulated with rods by the puppeteer
or dalang, who tells the story accompanied by a gamelan
orchestra and occassional chanting or singing of a singer.
gamelan can also accompany voices, Outside the theater,
the dalang commands a high respect from his community, for
he performs the job of an actor, a teacher, a historian,
and often a priest. The dalang is one mechanism that succesfully
passes culture and tradition from one generation to another.
While the night wayang performance is considered pure entertainment,
there exists another variant that is purely religious. This
religious wayang performance usually takes place in the
broad day light, without the coconut-husk lamp. In place
of the translucent screen, a piece of string is drawn to
separate the dalang from the audience, which may not even
exist. This variant may be performed prior to a ngaben
or cremation ceremony.
There is a regularly scheduled performance of the wayang
at Oka Kartini in Ubud every Sunday and Wednesday.