Dictionary of World Literature: Criticism, Forms, Technique

By Joseph T. Shipley | Go to book overview

W

wagon. Th. (1) See Medieval Theatre. (2) Wagon stage. Platform or floor on casters, so that it can be rolled on or off stage for quick changes of scenery.

Wardour Street English [London street of dealers in (imitation) antiques]. Pseudoarchaic style, esp. as in historical novels attempting to reproduce the language of their period.

warrior's triplet.See Welsh.

Wayang Wong. The Javanese dance- drama. The Hindus arrived in Java during the 2d c. In the 9th c. theatre and dance flourished along with religion and architecture; the great temple of Borobudur is decorated with scenes from the Nātya Sastra. King Dharmawanga then translated the Indian epic poem, the Mahabharata; during the 11th c. Kawi wrote a play taken from this poem, Arjunawawaha (The Nuptials of Arjun), the earliest known lakon, or theatre-piece. Stylization of the technique began about 1200; the golden Age 1350-1439. About 1900 the brother of the Sultan of Djokjakarta formed the Krida Beksa Wirama (Society of Music and Dance), for which technique and rules were established by Prince Souryadnigrat, who thus crystallized the dance-drama in its present form.

Historically, the Wayang Topeng (anciently called Raket) developed first, with masked actors; it was used for magic and ancestor-worship. Then came the Wayang Poorwa, the shadow-play (sometimes Wayang Kulit or Wayang Gedog). After it, marionettes cut in leather, Wayang Klitik or Wayan Kroutjil. From these, which could be used in profile only, grew the wooden marionettes ( Wayang Golek). The operator (dalang) speaks for his dolls. The forms of Wayang in which the actors are puppets, or humans with masks, are considered more mysterious, profound, and abstract. Then grew the Topeng Dalang, or Topeng Barangan, in which the operator gives the lines; the masked actor portrays gives the lines; the masked actor portrays them. These forms--all still in existence--combined to produce the Wayang Wong, the most popular Javanese dance-drama.

In a play (Rignit tyang) the Wayang Wong presents the human, unmasked actor. The appropriate actor lifts an arm to indicate that he is supposed to be speaking, while the dalang reads the lines. Dancing is incidental: pokok or combat dances; miraga or decorative dances. The plays last many hours, even days. The technique depends on suppleness of body, is a smooth even flow of movement, somewhat as on a slow-motion film. The aim is to soothe, not rouse; a well-acted Wayang Wong is as sedative as a drug. The subject-matter of the plays is from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Choreography is made and altered only by members of the royal household. There are five different styles of technique: of the women; of the lyric hero (djoged allus); of the dramatic hero (djoged kasar); of the demons; of the giants. The clown has no fixed technique; he alone may ad lib. Of women dancers there are 3 types. The Srimpis are of royal blood; these young girls dance in groups of 4. The Badayas are attached to the court, dance in groups of 9. The Ronggengs, or professional dancers, are not recognized by the Krida Beksa Wirama, save that recently they have been granted the privilege of using the Badaya repertoire.

There are two centers of dance-drama in Java today, Soerakarta (Solo) and Djokjakarta; the ancient kingdom of Mataram thus dividing in 1775. Besides the contrasts in technical detail and style ( Djokja men take women's roles; in Solo women take men's roles and patinted moustaches are worn. In Djokja the education of the actor-dancer is supposedly more scientific. The dalang reads the tales in the classical text, the actors are attached to the court, and the drama eclipses both music and speech. There is, however, more liberty in the choice of music. In Solo, the dalang improvises his tale-telling, but only classical music is used. It was the court of Solo that first revived the dance with the mask; also, first developed the Wayang Wong as it is today.

The Wayang Wong is the most perfectly finished theatre-piece in the world. It has been protected by the most cultured people of Java since its birth; all its movements, expressions, presentations, are rigidly orthodox. The dance is an integral part of

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Dictionary of World Literature: Criticism, Forms, Technique
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • ADVISERS and CONTRIBUTORS vii
  • SUGGESTIVE LIST OF ASSOCIATED TOPICS xi
  • Abbreviations xiv
  • A 1
  • B 63
  • C 82
  • D 145
  • E 182
  • F 229
  • G 277
  • H 296
  • I 310
  • J 339
  • K 346
  • L 347
  • M 365
  • N 394
  • Q 468
  • S 500
  • T 572
  • U 599
  • W 619
  • Y 631
  • Z 633
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