Reading the article brought back memories of the time I learnt to play the canang (gong) when I did a course on Malaysian theatre at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) in 1978.
An important component of the course required students to play at least one of the wayang kulit musical instruments. While the Kelantanese students in the class took to the instruments like ducks to water, it was a challenge for those of us who were handling them for the first time. Furthermore, our teacher was a tok dalang (master puppeteer) who spoke mostly Kelantanese Malay.
At the end of the semester, a mini stage was set up on campus for us to put up a wayang kulit performance as part of the course assessment. The audience comprised mainly students of the university. However, there was one truly memorable performance where members of the audience were none other than the various heads of state in our country.
In September that year, the Conference of Rulers was held in Penang and a night of cultural performances was organised in conjunction with the event. A few of us in the wayang kulit class were selected to be the ensemble that accompanied our tok dalang to present an item that night. The event was held at Dewan Sri Pinang.
Wayang kulit is an interesting art form and it would be a real pity if it disappears completely. So it is heartening to note that Pak Dain, the tok dalang mentioned in the article, has set up a gallery where people can learn about wayang kulit.
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