Wayang Kulit

In Fun
Relationship: Child of im/migrant

Wayang Kulit is a traditional Indonesian form of shadow puppet theatre usually accompanied by gamelan music. As I was growing up and fell in love with Western theatre, I realized that I knew very little of the theatre around the world, even less about the theatre of my own culture. When I purchased the puppet in Indonesia in 2011, I did not understand the significance of it. As a theatre artist and performer, I am committing to telling stories about dynamic cultures. However, the one story I have strayed away from is my own, perhaps because my culture was too great a task for me to tackle. I have a complicated relationship with race, identity, and ethnicity. For the longest time, I did not understand why I looked the way I did or how I was meant to fit into the American landscape. My Indonesian mother and Bengali father immigrated to NYC separately before meeting each other. They got married without any of their family present. While some elements of Indonesian and Bengali culture are similar, my parents had to learn new customs, traditions, and vocabularies. Their bravery to start a life together has made me the person I am today--someone who embraces the fluidity of ethnicity and culture. I am no longer afraid to explore my plural identities because I know that is what makes me a unique human being. My plural identities make me an American. This puppet is a symbol of my parents' beautiful cultures and the journeys they have taken to provide me the life I have today.

Place(s): Indonesia
Year: 1989

– Elka

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant