The shadow theatre has a unique power of allure. More than any other theatrical genre, it has the real power to transport the public to a magical universe. Likewise what we call popular art, this type of theatre is also unseparable from religion. In contrast with what happens in the West, the shadow performances are not intended for children.
Figures are made of parchment though the original skin differs from country to country and even from one region to another region in the same country. In the shadow theatre, figures are just an element. The puppeteers and, in certain cases, the musicians are mainly narrators. The figures manipulation just illustrates what is told. Music is as important and shadow theatre always includes an orchestra.
Each of these aspects is shown in the present exhibition with a
particular focus on the diversity of this theatrical style according to
the countries where it is performed : China, India, Thailand, Cambodja,
Indonesia, Malasia and Turkey. Being an Asian invention, with its origin
found only in this continent, the shadow theatre also reached the
Here, visitors may detect differences between Java and Bali shadow theatres. Also represented are the clowns which enjoy great relevance. The repertoir is taken from Ramayana, Mahabharata and local stories. The section also shows oil lamps and a complete orchestra for the Balinese shadow theatre.
Strongly influenced by both the Thai and Javanese shadow theatres, we can find it in the Kelantam region, in northeastern Malasia . The repertoire is also taken from Ramayana to which pieces inspired on local legends were added. Characters in the latter are, however, modern.
THAILAND AND CAMBODJA
Objects are shown in their own context by means of documentaries on the shadow theatre shot in China and Indonesia by Sylvie and Jacques Pimpaneau, the exhibition's curators.