An Interview with Khoo Eng Yow (Director), Abdul Rahim Hamzah (Performer)
For the Future of Performing Arts
Q: I first came to know the shadow theater “Wayang Kulit” by watching this film. The shadow puppets’ individual, beautiful movements meld with a puppeteer’s voice and the beat of a drum to weave a story on stage. I found it fascinating. What brought you to make a film about Wayang Kulit?
Khoo Eng Yow (KE): There are many restrictions on the presentation of various Malaysian performance arts. Among art forms gradually moving toward this difficult situation, Wayang Kulit faces particularly strict government regulation. I know these circumstances well, so I chose this subject. By focusing not on Wayang Kulit itself, but rather on the lives of its puppeteers, I made a documentary that communicates the difficult situations other art forms find themselves in as well.
Q: What are thoughts behind the title World without Shadow?
KE: The original Malaysian title “Wayang Rindukan Bayang” directly translates to “Shadow Puppets Long for Bygone Shadows.” “Rindukan” means longing for something past, and “bayand” means shadow. If the show is not put on there are no shadows, so the title “Shadow Puppets Long for Bygone Shadows” reflects circumstances in which Wayang Kulit cannot be performed. The title expresses strong thoughts.
Q: What do you think of the importance of passing traditional arts and culture like Wayang Kulit to future generations?
KE: I think entertainment is important for society, but the politicians don’t understand that importance.
Q: What do you two think about the performance of Wayang Kulit in the film that incorporates contemporary elements as a means to preserve itself?
Abdul Rahim Hamzah (ARH): Wayang Kulit originally comes from Thailand, and even if it evolves into new forms, it’s not likely that it will last. Unlike cars, motorcycles or bicycles, I do not think new dolls are sufficient. According to the government, Wayang Kulit has Hindi influences, so it is regulated for religious reasons. Naturally, when performed abroad what audiences enjoy about Wayang Kulit are its traditional forms. Because of that I would like to have them continue forever.
KE: Performance arts have to adjust to their time. There is no avoiding the many changes, and I think such an approach should exist.
Q: When you visited the students of Okubo Elementary School, did you feel or realize anything about the connection between children and the world of film?
KE: The children showed rich imagination. Touching the shadow puppets and making animations for us, they were able to express what they wanted to express by telling stories. Seeing such creative children, I felt that there are almost no boundaries to making images.
Q: And Abdul, did you have any thoughts about how the children interacted with Wayang Kulit?
ARH: I was very happy to see the children’s excitement, and I was also happy to introduce this art form to them as someone from another country. Malaysian children are also very interested in Wayang Kulit, of course, but for political reasons its popularity is gradually dying out.
(Compiled by Takahashi Yuri)
Interviewers: Takahashi Yuri, Kobayashi Ririko / Interpreter: Uehara Aki / Translator: Kyle Hecht
Photography: Oishi Mone / Video: Umeki Soichi / 2011-10-07