This story tells of God Siwa, who has cursed his wife to live her life as a demon on the earth. He begins to miss her and descends to earth to find her.
I Made Sidia, the dalang (puppeteer), consulted with his father, the renown puppeteer and dancer I Made Sija (of Bona, Gianyar) as to which story would be the most appropriate in order to get across the various messages about PTSD . “Siwa Tattwa” was chosen. This story tells of God Siwa, who has cursed his wife to live her life as a demon on the earth. He begins to miss her and descends to earth to find her. Yet they cannot meet while he is still in his godly form so he transforms to the demon Kala Ludra. They embrace and in their joy gather together all the demons of the world to create havoc. Even the animals are entered by demonic forces and go berserk. The entire world is in imbalance.
Seeing God Siwa in this transformation, the other gods in heaven are worried. They decide to descend to earth in different manifestations: the God Brahma as a red masked dancer (Jauk), the God Wisnu as a white masked dancer (Telek), the God Iswara as a Barong and the God Bayu as a puppeteer. Their purpose is to distract the demons with the beauty of their performances and convince God Siwa to return to his rightful place in heaven with his wife Goddess Uma. They succeed.
There are a number of subtexts in this story. One is that the bhuta kala or demonic forces, reside in each and every one of us. It is up to us to control them. These manifest in unacceptable behavior, such as drunkenness, greed, unwillingness to care for others and violence (including bombing). Another is that art is one vehicle which can heal the spirit and is an important component of Balinese culture. The title of this Wayang Kulit performance, “Dasa Nama Kerta” means the ten names of peace and refers to the elements which make up the universe. By cultivating, nourishing and controling these ten elements we can live in harmony. They are: earth, air, fire, water, plants, fish, fowl, animals, humans and God. This is a reminder that humans need to respect the earth and everything that is given to them.
I Made Sidia, the puppeteer (dalang) whose work is well known for its cutting political commentaries,. gathered together a team of very creative people, and his production improvised on traditional wayang in a number of ways. Firstly, the musical accompaniment to Sidia’s production included flutes, percussive instruments and a keyboard. Secondly, instead of using the traditional oil lamp (blancong) that illuminates the screen and the puppets, he computerised the show by calling upon his colleague, Dewa Made Darmawan, to create Power Point images. Thirdly, the screen was extended to three meters in width. Traditionally, dalangs cross-legged behind the screens no wider than their arm span. This means that they can march puppets across the screen without moving from their seated position. Sidia’s wide-screen forced the dalangs to slide across the floor as they marched their puppets from one side of his wide screen to the other. To ease their mobility, Sidia had them sit on skateboards.
Nyoman Sira, Sidia’s brother, made a number of new puppets out of plastic, thus adding yet another novel element to the show. Sira’s puppets move beautifully and include some three-dimensional puppets which transform with the flick of a wrist into another being. One is an old woman who turns into a witch, and a favourite among audiences is a man on a giant bicycle, wheels spinning, being chased by a monkey.
After two weeks, we showed the Wayang to a number of YKIP board members and dr. Robert Reverger, the psychiatrist. Sidia performed the wayang in Bahasa Indonesia as we thought it could reach a larger audience that way. Everyone agreed that it would work better to do it in his native Balinese. dr. Reverger had some good comments about what to include about PTSD, which Sidia was able to incorporate into the show with ease.
The first run through was at a temple festival at the Pura Dalem in Bona village (Sidia’s home town). It was an exciting night; one techinical difficulty was that the screen was not high enough so Sidia had to hit the other dalang with whatever puppet he had in his hand in order to keep their heads down. Usually the dalang controls only two puppets (he does all the speaking roles) but in this wayang, there are five others controlling the puppets while Sidia speaks.
Joe Yaggi of Jungle Run Productions shot the performance which we held at one of the Bale Banjars of Bona village. We were tied to a 27 minute limit by Bali TV. Trying to limit a storyteller is like trying to stop a river from running. Sidia did his best; his personal record was 35 minutes. So it was back to the editing room for a number of days trying to figure out what we could cut out. We then translated and subtitled the entire text into Indonesian for the TV and SMA audiences.
A 15 second TV spot was also made for Bali TV and a 60 second audio spot for radio.