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The Performing Art

From graceful court and temple dances to charming folk dances and boisterous play, the performing arts of Indonesia offer an astounding range of types and styles for the visitor to study or enjoy, reflecting, as they, do, the soul and traditions of the various ethnic groups who support them. Music, dance and drama are very often interwined, such as the ludruk transvestite theatre of East Java and the lenong folk theatre of Jakarta, both known also for their slapstick humor and early Shakespearean simplicity on their stage settings.
An important form of indigenous theatre is the puppets play, of which the most celebrated is the wayang kulit shadow play of Java where the characters are represented by the shadows of intricately carved and painted flat leather puppets, cast on a screen with the help of a torch (nowdays often substituted by an electric bulb).

The puppet theatre has many forms and employs a variety of media. In West Java, for example, the most popular form is the Wayang Golek, using carved and painted three dimensional wooden puppets. Both the Wayang Kulit and Wayang Golek take their repertoire from the classical Indian epics but in Central Java, the wooden puppet theatre traditionally brings only stories derived from popular folk legends revolving around the spread of Islam. There are other forms still alive today, such as the Wayang Klitik and Wayang Kruci, each having its own standard repertoire.

The oldest form of "shadow" play is probably the Wayang Beber, in which the dalang or puppeteer simply unrolls a scroll bearing the scenes and figures of the story while he delivers his narration accompanied by a gamelan orchestra. A popular contemporary form of wayang theatre is the Wayang Wong, is which actors or dancers represent the characters in the story which is presented on a conventional stage.
These are establishments for the purpose of entertainment and are found in many of the big cities of Indonesia. They are a kind of permanent night fairs presenting nightly performances of local folk theatre, local handicrafts and other attractions of popular character. One of the oldest and best-known entertainment parks is the Sriwedari park in Solo (Surakarta) which offers nightly performances of popular wayang wong plays.



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