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Publisher Description

To most of the thousands of tourists that flood the tiny island of Bali every year, the wayang kulit (shadow puppet theatre) is little more than one of many exotic forms of entertainment that nightly provide diversion from a leisurely day of surfing, sunning or sightseeing. In the 1960s the Indonesian government conceived of Bali as a "window to Indonesian culture" and saw the Balinese arts as a way to attract foreign tourists to the country. (1) An organized effort began with the construction of huge five-star hotels and resorts on the southern tip of Bali along the beaches of Sanur, Nusa Dua, Jimbaran, Tuban, Legian, and Seminyak and eventually at the hippie enclave of Kuta. Accompanying this massive effort to attract foreign exchange was a marketing campaign designed to highlight the "exotic" appeal of Balinese culture. As part of the formula, tourists were provided doses of performance experiences at the hotels as dinner entertainment. The tour-bus crowd saw performances at special venues constructed at Batubulan, Bona, and Peliatan. Even the large indoor and outdoor performance venues of the Arts Centre in Denpasar near the STSI state School of the Arts were designed to appeal to tourists. As tourism began to catch hold and grow tourists began to journey deep into the countryside, principally to the villages upcountry, like the village of Ubud, long considered a cultural center of the island. Nowadays, it is possible to see legong dance, Ramayana ballet, barong and kris dance, monkey dance, angel dance, and fire dance, as well as topeng, the masked dance-drama, and wayang kulit, virtually every night of the year at many locations on the island. However, there is another side to Balinese arts which was not designed to be marketed to foreign tourists. This side concerns the service that the arts, particularly puppetry, provide to the people of Bali. This is the side which we deal with in this brief paper. We began to explore that service in our paper entitled, "On the Margins of Time and Space: Performance and Performance Sites of Hindu Temples" written for the FIRT International Conference on "Theatrical Space in Postmodern Times" held in conjunction with the 9th Quadrennial of Stage Design and Theatre Architecture held in Prague in 1999. (2) In that work we explore the characteristics and importance of wayang lemah, one of several categories of shadow puppetry, performed for the most sacred events in Balinese temples and homes.

January 1
Southeast Conference of the Association for Asian Studies

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