Wayang Kulit

I spent most of the day today at the National University of Singapore. I went to campus early to take advantage of the Wifi access so I could Skype with my parents in Iowa. After our last attempt (which failed), I was worried it wouldn’t work. It did! It was super fun! I am glad we were able to connect, and I could “show” them a little bit of my experience here.

About 5 minutes after we finished our conversation there was a torrential downpour, complete with lightning and thunder. By that time, hiwever, I was securely in class. Today I started my course on “Southeast Asian Theatre and Performance” at NUS. It was a fascinating class. Many of the students in the course are also taking “Intercultural Theatre” with me, so it was nice to recognize a few smiling faces.

Today Dr. Shen lectured on wayang kulit puppetry, a shadow puppet tradition that originated and is practiced (in various forms) throughout Southeast Asia. I loved learning about how Islam, localization / cultural heritage, and the advent of electricity affected the development of this performance tradition.

During the class I was also reminded how very little I know about theatre and dance performances from this part of the world; most of my education in theatre / performance history has focused on Western traditions. So, this course is filled with completely new and exciting information.

After class I met with Dr. Shen for coffee. He shared with me a little about his work and research. He invited me to come to visit one of the more practice-based classes he teaches. I’ll have to check that out, too.

It is so wonderful to be able to audit courses in my field to expand the world view of my field.

I will say that anyone who thinks a Fulbright is a vacation is sorely sorely misinformed. I am loving my experience, but I am working like crazy! Looking forward to the school holiday next week… a little breathing and reflection space will be wonderful.

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