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Featured Artist: Ketut Wirtawan


11138083_841376695932923_8698419113000423266_nMr. Wirtawan has trained extensively in wayang kulitand gambuh, one of Bali’s most difficult and complicated dance-drama forms. Ketut Wirtawan is not only a powerful dancer, but is also an accomplished musician, vocalist, shadow puppeteer, painter, and director. He has taken over the spiritual and artistic responsibilities of his late father, the revered Ketut Kantor and his legendary grandfather Nyoman Kakul, carrying on the tradition of one of Bali’s most important artistic lines.

Wirtawan is a sought-after dalang (puppeteer) for both traditional and modern wayang kulit performances, and one of Bali’s most dedicated and respected artists. He has toured to Austria, Germany, France, Switzerland, India, Japan Taiwan, and Singapore.

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In our current Indonesia Focus Year the UHM Asian Theatre Program will present a WayangListrik shadow-puppetry productionThe initial period of instruction started in January, 2015 with Balinese guest artist Madé Widana and doctoral student Annie Reynolds in residence at UHM overseeing classes and workshops. They introduced students to Balinese dance, puppetry, and gamelan music.

For the show, students will be trained as dancers, actors, shadow casters, puppeteers, singers, musicians, and designers.  For the second phase of training (Fall 2015), two additional artists from Bali will join the production team to collaborate during the rehearsal period. Mr. Ketut Wirtawan, a master dancer and puppeteer, and Mr. Madé Moja, a well-known designer and painter, will be responsible for creating the puppets, masks, and overall stage design.

The year-long training and rehearsal period will culminate in a Balinese Wayang Listrik show presented in January 22-31, 2016, at the UHM Kennedy Theatre. Outreach performances in the local community will follow the theatrical run.

What is Wayang Listrik?

Wayang Listrik is a modern Balinese theatre genre based on traditional shadow puppetry (wayang kulit) with accompanying dance and music, all transferred to a large 30 x 15 foot screen. The show comes alive with traditional carved leather puppets, shadow-actors, dancers, and gamelan music. The story we selected is entitled Subali-Sugriwa – Battle of the Money Kings, and is based on episodes from the Indian Ramayana, which has long been an important source of story material for Balinese theatre.

A new script has been composed by guest artist Ketut Wirtawan, who draws upon many years of experience as a traditional wayang kulit puppeteer and dancer.

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