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Shadow Play Residency and Performance

Gamelan dancers

The Brothers Campur, a multinational troupe of artists trained in Indonesian shadow puppetry and music, will make several visits to campus. This will culminate in the performance of a Balinese wayang kulit (shadow play), in collaboration with musicians from Swarthmore’s Gamelan Semara Santi and dancers from the Indonesian Cultural Club of Delaware. The shadow play has flourished in Indonesia for 1,000 years and is included on UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. It remains a vital form of storytelling famous for its elaborate leather puppets, accompanied by a sophisticated mix of music and dance.

Open rehearsals
Sunday, Oct. 27, Sunday, Nov. 3, and Sunday, Nov. 10, 2–5 p.m.
Lang Music Building, Room 410
At these rehearsals, the Brothers Campur will develop the show collaboratively with musician members of Swarthmore’s Gamelan Semara Santi. Space is avail­ able for a limited number of observers who would like to learn more about the rehearsal process. To secure a reservation, please email

Performance practice workshop
Tuesday, Nov. 12, 1:15–3:30 p.m.
Lang Music Building, Lang Concert Hall
Come behind the shadow screen and learn how all the pieces fit together. We begin by meeting the characters used in a shadow play—learning the backstory of Tualen the servant and the distinct voice of Hanoman the monkey king. Then we offer a demonstration of the musical instruments and their specialized repertoire that accompanies everything from love scenes to battles. With this basic understanding of the musical and theatrical elements, participants will stage a short scene, developing puppetry techniques for walking, speaking, dancing, and fighting.

Concert performance
Sunday, Nov. 17, 3 p.m.
Lang Music Building, Lang Concert Hall
The performance begins with a musical overture played by two gamelans (percussion orchestras). A series of rapid passages leads to the introduction of the kayonan— the “tree of life” puppet that opens every show. From there, the Dalang (shadow puppet master) brings in more characters that tell an episode from one of the Hindu epics: the Mahabharata and Ramayana. Perhaps a hero needs to venture into the forest in search of a certain tree, or a char­ acter schemes to steal the bride of his enemy. In any case, there will be jokes and mishaps, magical weapons and mythical beasts, and, of course, a rousing battle scene that sets everything right. Live dancers will also participate. The audience is free to watch from behind the screen, or enjoy the flickering shadows and shimmering sounds from the front. This production will be in English to make the show accessible. Families with children are welcome.