Wayang Bali (Indonesian Shadow Puppet Play)

Sconyers Plaza, North of the Vanderhoef Studio Theatre, Mondavi Center

ShadowLight Productions  |  Larry Reed, Artistic Director and Dalang
Carla Fabrizio, Lisa Gold, Paul Miller, Sarah Willner, gamelan
Katie Harrell, vocalist  |  Fred C. Riley III, assistant

Presented in conjunction with the conference Rethinking the History of Indonesian Music, a conference made possible by the Henry Luce Foundation.


Wayang Bali, the Balinese Shadow Play (which features a live gamelan accompaniment), is one of the most revered traditional art forms in the world. 

According to Balinese philosophy, a wayang performance is a symbol of the cosmos. The dalang (Shadow Master) represents God; the screen represents the world, including the atmosphere; the damar (oil lamp) is the sun and the banana log underneath the screen is the earth on which the creatures walk; the wayangs (puppet characters) are the creatures.  The accompanying gender music represents irama djaman, which means in phase with the periods of history.

Plots for the shadow play are drawn from the Mahabharata myth cycle. Five brothers are pitted against one hundred jealous cousins in a struggle for power involving gods, demons, magical weapons, and the inevitable beautiful princess.

Wayang Bali takes place in two languages simultaneously: the ancient language and the language of the audience.

$12 Students and Children / $24 Adults

About the Artists

Larry Reed is a nationally and internationally acclaimed artist and is a trailblazer in contemporary shadow theatre. He is one of the first Westerners to have trained in the traditional Balinese shadow theatre (wayang kulit) and is a “dalang,” or “shadow master,” who manipulates over 20 carved leather shadow puppets while simultaneously serving as the conductor of the accompanying gamelan orchestra, the director, and the stage manager. Over the years, he has performed over 250 shows in this tradition around the world. 

ShadowLight was founded in 1972 by filmmaker, theatre director, and shadow artist Larry Reed. The driving forces were Reed’s interests in and appreciation of shadow theatre traditions, film and world cultures, and the passion to express them in an integrated fashion. He is one of the few Westerners to have trained in the traditional Balinese shadow theatre and is a dalang or “shadow master.” After over 15 years of studying and performing in this tradition, Reed began expanding the scope of ShadowLight’s artistic activities in order to create a deeper connection with contemporary American audiences.

Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, Davis, CA

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