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Social and Political Critic in Traditional Balinese Drama Performance  

by on Thursday, 3 July 2008No Comment | 3,376 views

In Balinese drama performance social and political critics have been an indispensable part of a performance. Social and political critic can be found in all kind of traditional drama performance, from Wayang Kulit (shadow puppet) to Drama Gong, from Arja (Balinese traditional opera) to Masked dance performance.


The inclusion of social and political critic in traditional drama performance is not a new invention. Since the first time shadow puppet was performed in the island of Bali in the 896 AD, during the reign of King Ugrasena, it has already incorporated some social and political critics in it. The critics usually come up in the conversation between the clown, between the clown and price, between spirit and god, between clown and demon, and between king and god.

Another example is the Arja, Balinese traditional opera. When the prototype of this traditional opera were first performed in the cremation ceremony of I Dewa Agung Gede Kusamba in 1825, it was contained an important satirical social and political critic. King Kusamba had two wives, a beautiful princess from Badung, and other a stout matron from Karangsem. The second wife was as strong-willed and powerful as she was unattractive and ambitious, and she was heartily disliked especially in Badung. The story chosen for this traditional opera performance at the cremation of the deceased was ‘Kasayang Limbur’ (Loves of the Ugly Queen); in it, the deceased King and his wife were discreetly satirized.

The social and political critics in Balinese traditional drama performance serves as media to educate the viewers, to give advice as well as to give information in relation with social and political condition to the viewers.

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