Kennedy Theatre Presents THE LAST KING OF BALI

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Kennedy Theatre Presents THE LAST KING OF BALI

The University of Hawai'i at Mānoa's Department of Theatre and Dance and Kennedy Theatre are proud to present The Last King of Bali, a traditional Balinese folk tale adapted by I Ketut Wirtawan and I Madé Moja, dynamically staged with giant shadow puppetry, actors, dancers, and live gamelan music. The production is co-directed by Kirstin Pauka, Director of the Asian Theatre program at UHM, and Moja, with compositions and music direction by I Madé Widana. Performances will take place February 7, 8, 14, and 15 at 7:30 p.m., and February 16 at 2:00 p.m. on the Kennedy Theatre Mainstage. Free pre-show chats will take place before the February 8th and February 15th performances. Tickets are $8-$25.

The style of production, wayang listrik (Indonesian for "electric shadows"), is a recent development in Balinese shadow puppetry that emerged in the late 1990s. What distinguishes this art form from others is the inclusion of giant screens, paintings, complex lighting, 3-dimensional effects, and dancers, as well as actors behind the screen, wearing shadow masks carved in a similar manner as traditional kulit ("leather") puppets. These elements synthesize in "controlled mayhem", as Co-Director Pauka puts it. "In many ways it's like shooting an entire film in one take. There are a thousand moving pieces and you have to get it right, or the illusion is broken."

With such precision needed, it is a good thing that the artistic team of the production consists of renown masters of Balinese performing arts. Wirtawan is a master teacher for dance and puppetry who has extensive training in wayang kulit, as well as gambuh, one of Bali's most difficult and complicated dance-drama forms. He is also an accomplished musician, vocalist, shadow puppeteer, painter, and director. Wirtawan has toured internationally, including Austria, Germany, France, Switzerland, India, Japan, Taiwan, and Singapore. Moja, Master Designer and co-director of the production, is a prominent painter, skilled in the traditional ink and watercolor technique of his native village Batuan, Bali. He has created elaborate set designs and shadow puppets for wayang listrik productions for the past 25 years. Lastly, Widana is Music Director of the show. He is a master teacher of music from Karangasem, Bali, as well as a renowned musician, dancer, and composer. Widana is the director of the UHM ensemble Gamelan Segara Madu. He will lead a gamelan ensemble of 15 musicians, playing various metallophones, hanging gongs, double-headed drums, and other melodic instruments.

The title, The Last King of Bali, refers to a 17th century period in Balinese history when the entire country was united under the rule of King Dalem Dimade. After his reign ended, the island was never united in the same way. Thus, many people refer to his reign as a golden age of Balinese culture. This production's story, largely based on this history, revolves around one night on Nusa Penida (a small neighbor island to Bali) where a supernaturally powerful demon, Dalem Dukut, causes chaos, sickness and misery among the people. The village leader travels to Bali to request the assistance of King Dalem Dimade in driving out the demon. The king agrees to help and sends his trusted minster, Jelantik Bogol, and his wife, Ayu Kaler, to challenge the demon in an epic battle of physical might, technical skill, and spiritual powers. Audience members should expect an immersive, action-packed cultural experience performed by a large and diverse cast, which has trained for over a year in Balinese puppetry, music, and dance in order to bring this art form to the Kennedy Theatre mainstage.

Tickets to The Last King of Bali are on sale online at, by phone at (808) 944-2697, and at official outlets. Sales at the Kennedy Theatre Box Office begin on Monday, February 3, 2020. Ticket sales at the Box Office are available Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. with extended hours on show days.

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