STUDENTS at Cowaramup Primary School and Margaret River Senior High School were fascinated on Friday to see both sides of an ancient art when Indonesian shadow puppet master Pak Sumardi visited.
From behind a lighted screen, Sumardi performed a one-man puppet show with funny voices, exotic music, and accompanying cymbals that he played with his feet.
Students could watch from both sides of the screen, first enjoying the shadow performance and then moving to see Sumardi working his puppet characters Pako and Pietro as he told the story of them cutting down trees to build a new kingdom for their boss.
One of only 36 practicing shadow puppet masters in Indonesia, Sumardi has practiced “wayang kulit” for more than 30 years.
Inheriting some puppets more than 100 years old, he said his grandmother had been the best female puppeteer in Indonesia, and he was inspired by her from age 11.
Sumardi visited the schools through Cultural Infusion, a national group supporting intercultural contact for positive change.
MRSHS head of environment/languages Mike Caudle said Cultural Infusion had brought a number of performers to the school. He spoke of benefits of exposing children to other cultures through performing arts and said he wanted to get students, particularly year 9s, away from the idea that “Indonesia equals Bali”.
The performance by Sumardi also complemented the school’s Indonesian language program and Mr Caudle acknowledged Indonesian teacher Angela McCoy for liaising with Cultural Infusion.
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