Puppet Theater in Contemporary Indonesia:
New Approaches to Performance Events

Jan Mrazek

University of Michigan 2002
A book review by Danny Yee © 2010 http://dannyreviews.com/
They are labelled chapters, but Puppet Theater in Contemporary Indonesia is actually a collection of twenty four essays, with separate references and no common index.

As well as the well-known wayang kulit, the essays span a range of regional, local, and even personal traditions: wayang golek Menak in Kebumen, wayang gandrung in East Java, wayang among the Sasak of Lombok, Sukasman's wayang ukur, wong cilik, Sundanese wayang golek purwa, the shadow theatre of Banyumas, and more.

Themes which receive particular attention include: the politics of wayang and its integration into the New Order and reformasi; the careers of individual dalangs and their financial, political and social constraints and opportunities; and historical changes in performance content, practice, and reception.

The approaches include Geertzian "thick description", more traditional ethnographic accounts, and personal narratives. Some of the pieces are Theory-heavy, with titles such as "Watching Wayang With Spinoza" and "The Body of Merleau-Ponty", and very occasionally seem more clever than enlightening.

There should be plenty in Puppet Theater in Contemporary Indonesia for anyone who wants to understand Indonesian puppet performance as a network of live and evolving traditions.

Disclaimer: three of the contributors to this volume have performed with or taught me.

January 2010

External links:
- buy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk
Related reviews:
- books about Indonesia + Indonesian history
- books about Java + Javanese culture
- books about performance
%T Puppet Theater in Contemporary Indonesia
%S New Approaches to Performance Events
%A Mrazek, Jan
%I University of Michigan
%D 2002
%O paperback
%G ISBN 0891480846
%P 376pp