Wayang in Jaman Now: Reflexive Traditionalization and Local, National, and Global Networks of Javanese Shadow Puppet Theatre

Matthew Cohen

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Doomsayers and traditionalists prognosticate that the dominance of digital media spells the end of traditional arts in Java, Indonesia. Wayang kulit (shadow puppet theatre), while still highly regarded as theatrical heritage, is said to be under particular threat due to the long duration of its plays, complexity of language and the need for prior knowledge of characters and situations. Such features are at odds with the short attention spans and need for instant comprehension and gratification of Gen Z – the youth referred to in Indonesian media as inhabiting jaman now (literally, ‘the time of now’). While digital social media, including Facebook and YouTube, definitely offer up alternate forms of entertainment and amusement, they are also being used by traditional puppet practitioners to reinforce and expand communities of practice. Facebook provides platforms for comparative discussion and critical debate, while YouTube potentiates the inclusion of a geographically dispersed audience, including overseas workers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-57
Number of pages18
JournalTheatre Research International
Issue number1
Early online date3 Apr 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Apr 2019

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