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@AMERICA: The Falling Leaves of Maple Trees: Indonesian Contemporary Puppet Theater’s American Journey


Papermoon Puppet Theatre is an Indonesian theatre group that has go international. The unique thing of this group is that it is played not by human, but by puppets. Besides, it is not just about conventional puppet show that is only enjoyed by children, but also enjoy by the elder ages. This group has experienced several times performing on other countries. One of the performance is in America which also collaborate with a university theatre group there. The title of the performance is “The Falling Leaves of Maple Trees”.

“The Falling Leaves of Maple Trees” is telling about the invasion of people with certain characteristic that is with red color on their feet. It actually represents Indonesia historical accident in 1965. This was performed without any dialogue.

The unique thing of this theatre is between the player and the puppets. Usually we found that human player has more expression than the puppets, therefore usually they cover their selves so that their existence do not distract audience focus on the puppet. Oppositely, the puppet players in Papermoon Puppet Theatre are trained to have less expression, but to flow it to the puppet character that they played. Besides, the puppet players also do not hide their selves. They use usual clothing (not black), however they still able to make the audience attention focus on the puppets even really ignore the existence of the player itself.

During the discussion session the founder explain that the important thing of Papermoon theatre is our ability to transfer our emotion into a dead thing, that is the puppet. The puppet cannot talk or changing emotion, so it is the job for the player to make it seems talk and have emotion, or in other word, they are alive. “It actually sounds like animism way of believe”, said the founder, because they make alive the dead thing.

Another interesting thing behind this puppet show is about the process in creating the character. The designer of the puppet explained that the puppet is not instantly created only in single process cycle, but it pass several times of production and evaluation until the designer get the perfect character. Besides, since the puppets itself cannot changing their emotion, so the puppet was made is expression less. This is because the emotion that later gonna appear from the puppet is “filled by the puppet player itself”

For me personally, as a design student, I learn something from this event, that is: I should ensure that in every single work that I am doing it, I should create a “connection” between me and my work, because as how the puppet player can transfer their emotion to the puppet, makes the audience even can feel that the puppet is alive. I make my personal conclusion that, any kind of work that has no soul, has no feeling (message) to be delivered, while human (the user of design work) is basically enjoying a design product because they receive the feeling of it, not just its physical  condition.


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