KUALA LUMPUR – On Sunday, Irsyad Abdul Rahman’s energetic beats of the ‘Geduk’ (pegged drums) to accompany the traditional Malay shadow play, or Wayang Kulit, caught the attention of the patrons in Publika shopping mall at Solaris Dutamas here.
Irsyad played the drums with precision, synchronizing his beats with the sound from other musical instruments namely Canang (a pair of kettle-gongs), Gedombak (goblet drums) and Kesi (a pair of goblet cymbals) to accompany the storyline of the play presented by the Sri Warisan Pusaka troupe.
The play themed ‘Hikayat Maharaja Wana’ that night involved the mytical characters from another dimension and time, and the awesome performance of the 14-year Irsyad, the youngest in the troupe, captivated the audience.
Irsyad told Bernama he has been passionate on Wayang Kulit since kindergarten and has been learning how to play some of the accompanying musical intruments from his father Abdul Rahman Dollah, who heads the music section of the Sri Warisan Pusaka troupe.
WAYANG KULIT IN HIS BLOOD
“It was 10 years ago when I started watching my father practising with his friends. From there I yearned to explore the music accompanying Wayang Kulit.
“It took me years to learn to play a few of the instruments. I guess it is in my blood,” he said when met after the performance.
Wayang Kulit, is an ancient performing art, that uses the silouhoute of the puppet characters placed between a light source and the screen. The movement of the puppet characters are controlled by the Tok Dalang, the puppet master.
Though the show mesmerised the audience, that included foreigners, this art form is slowly going into oblivion. Both Irsyad and Abdul Rahman hoped that the dying art of Wayang Kulit could be preserved for posteriori.
“It is true that the younger generation are not keen in this art, but we need them to preserve this tradition. I don’t want to see this tradition disappear,” said Abdul Rahman.
Sri Warisan Pusaka was founded by the late Tok Dalang Abdullah Ibrahim, or more fondly known as Dalang Dollah Baju Merah, a famous Wayang Kulit performer in the late 1950s.
Now with new puppet masters Mohamad Hassan Noor and Abdul Rahman at helm, both proteges of Dollah Baju Merah, the troupe is taking Wayang Kulit all over the world.
With the support of a non-profit cultural organisation, Pusaka, the troupe was given the opportunity to perform in the United States – Texas, Houston, Florida and Atlanta last February.
In 2007, the group performed during the opening week of the Festival Lâ€™imaginaire in Paris.
The group also performed together with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra for the specially-commissioned performance to celebrate 50 Years of Merdeka in 2007.
EFFORTS TO REVITALISE
Meanwhile, Pusaka founder Eddin Khoo said his organization worked closely with Malaysian traditional performers to revitalize their living heritage and pass it on to the next generation.
“It is my passion to see Malaysian traditional heritage being preserved although I am half Chinese and half Indian, I am still a Malaysian, and believe that all tradition in the country should be preserved,” he said.
Since 2002, Pusaka has been engaging in research and documentation of various traditional performing arts in the Peninsula as well as organizing performances and talks about preserving the Malaysian arts’ heritage. – BERNAMA