Traditional wayang golek cepak performances

Wayang golek cepak is a rare form of rod puppet theatre originating from the northern littoral of west Java.  Most plays concern local legends, many of them set in the time of the wali, the legendary Islamic saints who brought Islam to Java. The puppeteer thus functions as both entertainer and local historian, and is responsible for reminding audiences of the origins of villages and local customs and narrating the heroic adventures of ancestors. Like wayang kulit, it is performed by a solo puppeteer accompanied by a gamelan ensemble.

Matthew Cohen gave his debut performance as a wayang golek cepak puppeteer in August 2012 in the village of Pekandangan, Indramayu, with the story of Sutajaya, about the founders of the village of Pekandangan. The production was a collaboration with Sanggar Tari Topeng Mimi Rasinah. He performed again in Pekadangan on New Years Eve 2012, with a full-night performance of Sutajaya, accompanied this time by the musicians of Wayang Golek Budi Mulya.

Based on these studies in Cirebon and Indramayu, Kanda Buwana created a neo-traditional play, Dewi Gegurit, a collaboration with Indonesian composer Marisa Sharon Hartanto scored for an ensemble of piano, singer, flute, doublebass and percussion, which received its premiere at the Gamelanathon festival at the Southbank Centre in London on 6 July 2013.