INTERPLAYS of light, shadows, puppetry and music weaved enchanting tales for shoppers during a series of Wayang Kulit Performances and Workshops at 1st Avenue Mall in Penang.
Locals and tourists alike made themselves comfortable on the floor, as they watched the shadow puppet theatre play out against an elaborate ‘kampung house’ backdrop that evoked nostalgia for olden days.
While chronicling various folk tales and traditional epics, performers Bayu Group injected some contemporary elements and light humour into the shows, tickling the crowd.
“We wanted the shows to be relatable to the audience, but at the same time maintaining its essence,” explained the Penang-based traditional arts group’s leader Mohd Jufry Yusoff after a performance on Sunday.
After the show, the crowd went behind the scenes to see how wayang kulit was performed. They tried their hand at manipulating the intricately carved puppets and played some of the musical instruments.
Later, kids and adults attended a workshop to make their own puppets out of goatskin. After chiselling the leather and staining it with various colours, they each had a nifty souvenir to take home.
Businessman Lai Tuck Wai, 38, was among those in attendance, together with five-year-old daughter Rachel. They happened to be shopping at the mall, and upon hearing music from the showcases, the youngster wanted to see what it was all about.
“She loves the puppet she created. We were fortunate to be here today, because you seldom get to immerse yourselves in such traditional art forms nowadays,” Lai said.
Mohd Jufry, who learnt the art form from his ‘tok dalang’ (master puppeteer) grandfather, echoed that sentiment, saying that there should be more platforms promoting the traditional arts so they can once again flourish.
“There are many interested in watching wayang kulit, but don’t know where to see it. Others, who have never been exposed to it, would not have the chance to appreciate it.
“Having originated in the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia in the late 1800s, it is an integral part of our history and heritage, and we should strive to keep it alive,” added Mohd Jufry, who has been involved with wayang kulit for the past 45 years.
The mall’s advertising and pro-motions manager Carl Ooi said the activities, which were part of its ‘Festival of Cultures’ celebrations held in conjunction with Hari Raya, will continue this weekend.
There will be more Wayang Kulit performances on Saturday and Sunday, at 2pm and 3.30pm daily. In between, there will be workshops at 3pm, 4.30pm and 5pm, all to be held at the Main Atrium.
“It is a great opportunity for everyone to learn more about this art form and its origins. The modern generation, especially, have lost touch with traditional elements like this, and we would like to bring it back.
“Besides, the entire family can also spend quality time together engaging in something meaningful,” Ooi added.