I realize that I’m posting this update long after the end of December. Here’s a brief synopsis of what happened in December: students at my school were wrapped up in taking semester exams, activity increased dramatically at Ijen, and my family came to visit for the New Year’s holiday.
Someday I’ll actually get to writing about real wayang (including the two performances I participated in), but today, I’m only going to write about the wayang kertas assignment I gave to my Seni Budaya students at the end of the semester. Kertas means paper–the assignment was to draw any wayang character the student wanted on a piece of construction paper, decorate it, attach movable arms, and fashion on bamboo sticks in the manner of real wayang puppets. I encouraged my students to think outside the box and expand the concepts for their characters beyond the traditional shapes. After hearing suggestions like wayang Michael Jackson and wayang Spongebob from my classes, I was hoping I would get modern additions to the traditional wayang line-up. I took the classic image of Uncle Sam and turned him into a wayang Paman Sam as an example for the students (Paman Sam was unfortunately left behind when I took him to a wayang performance near my village; I think he ended up in the trunk with real leather characters).