Wayang Kulit is a popular shadow puppet show in the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia, especially those in Kelantan and Terengganu, and also in Johor. The origin of the theatre is still remained a mistery, but it was brought to Malaya hundreds of years ago.
Wayang Kulit is a very unique form of theatre employing the principle of light and shadow. The puppets are crafted from buffalo hide and mounted on bamboo sticks. When held up behind a piece of white cloth, with an electric bulb or an oil lamp as the light source, shadows are cast on the screen.
Wayang Kulit plays are invariably based on romantic tales, especially adaptations of the classic Indian epics, "The Mahabarata" and "The Ramayana". Some of the plays are also based on local happenings (current issues) or other local secular stories. It is up to the conductor or "Tok Dalang" to decide his direction.
The Tok Dalang is the genius behind the entire performance. It is he who sits behind the screen and narrates the story. With a traditional orchestra in the background to provide a resonant melody and its conventional rhythm, the Tok Dalang modulates his voice to create suspense thus heightening the drama. Invariably, the play climaxes with the triumph of good over evil.