Shadow Play presents at least two of Kelantan’s famous traits front and center: Wayang Kulit, of course, and the independence and business savvy of its women. Wayang Kulit was performed somewhere almost every night during the dry season, when such entertainments are possible. Driving on Kelantan roads at night, the music drifted from the stage, pointing to the performances, which lasted until midnight or beyond. The stage set up and wandering audiences sitting on the ground before it also supported a wide variety of snack and coffee stalls around the enclosure, so the atmosphere was no hushed theatrical performance, but the constant movement of audiences eating, smoking, talking and watching. It was most assuredly a party.
  • This is behind the scenes at a performance by Dollah Baju Merah in the village of Gunung in May, 1978. The two puppets Dollah is holding are the comedians of Wayang Siam: Pak Dogol and Wak Long.
    Steps at Home
  • Dollah Baju Merah performed in the kampong (village) of Jelawat in March, 1978. The stage is a raised ‘hut’ which houses the dalang and his musicians. The audience sees the shadows of the puppets against the sheet. The dalang keeps his puppets in place with the trunk of a banana tree in front of him, directly behind the curtain. Dollah’s puppets often had quite a modern look.
    Wan Hamida
  • Much of the performance, all of which is ad libbed at the time, is topical comedy, which is I think most people’s favorite part.
    Sabak at Dawn
  • Here is Dollah Baju Merah’s drummer, Ghani, in May 1978 in Bacok.
    Selling Snacks
  • Hamzah was a very popular dalang in Kelantan: his puppets were more traditional than Dollah Baju Merah’s, that is, there were no modern touches like glasses! Like most dalang, Hamzah made his own puppets, which he is showing here.
    Pantai Sabak
  • The puppet behind the screen during a performance is Seri Rama, the hero of the cycle of stories upon which the plays are based (taken originally from the Ramayana epic of India). Note the ‘tree of life’ puppet which is placed in the middle of the screen before the show begins.
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