University of Pittsburgh
February 5, 2004

University Art Gallery Presents Divinities, Demons, Kings, And Clowns: Puppetry of India and Southeast Asia


Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH—From Muppet creator Jim Henson's rod puppet technique to the puppet design in director Julie Taymor's spectacular production of the Broadway version of The Lion King, the entertainment industry has long been influenced by the puppetry of India and Southeast Asia.

The University of Pittsburgh will feature Divinities, Demons, Kings, and Clowns: Puppetry of India and Southeast Asia—an exhibition that includes concerts, displays, and workshops—from Feb. 13 through March 27 at the University Art Gallery, in Pitt's Frick Fine Arts Building, Schenley Drive, Oakland. The exhibition and its special events are free and open to the public.

Using figures that represent thousand-year-old traditions, the exhibition demonstrates the similarities of the stories, images, and character types found in Indian and Southeast Asian puppet theaters. Both regions' puppetry is intertwined with religious and cultural rituals that have been exchanged throughout the centuries. Even though the exhibition's themes relate most clearly to Indian and Southeast Asian puppet practice, they also reflect worldwide patterns that have influenced object theater, which combines imagery, puppetry, and choreography.

The exhibition was curated by Kathy Foley, professor of theater at University of California (UC), Santa Cruz. It is cosponsored by the Indo-Pacific Council and Pitt's Department of Music, Department of Theatre Arts, and Asian Studies Center, part of the University Center for International Studies.

The University Art Gallery is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursday evenings until 8 p.m. It will be closed from March 8 through March 13 due to spring break. For more information, call 412-648-2423.

Special Events (All held in the University Art Gallery):

Feb. 13, 5-7 p.m. Opening Reception

From 6 to 6:30 p.m., Kathy Foley, puppeteer and professor of theater at UC Santa Cruz will perform wayang golek, a three-dimensional Javanese puppetry technique, accompanied by the University Gamelan Ensemble, under the direction of Pitt Professor of Music Andrew Weintraub.

Feb. 16, 4:30 p.m. The Music of West Java

University Gamelan Ensemble

Feb. 26, 6:30 p.m. Raga and Rasa: Savoring the Color of Sound in Hindustani Music

Amelia Maciszewski, visiting professor of music at Pitt

March 4, 6:30 p.m. Movement, Characterization, and Mood in Epic Theater of India

Sreyashi Dey, artistic director of Srishti Dances of India

March 17, noon Puppets, Politics, and Power in Southeast Asia

Andrew Weintraub, professor of music

March 24, 2 p.m. Mask and puppet carving demonstration and workshop

Otang Rasta and Atik Rasta, Pitt visiting artists-in-residence from Indonesia