By Kim Alan Wheetley.
Cast: 9 minimum, flexible. Mythical beasts, colorful costumes, rhythmic music and Balinese masks weave an exotic spell in this fanciful blend of three comic Indonesian folktales. In The Widow and the Wealthy Neighbor, a single actor portrays a poor widow, a bumbling servant and a miserly neighbor in a comic tale of greed. A scheming monkey plays its mischief on a legendary beast, long of hair but short of patience, in The Monkey and the Barong. The Buffalo and the Bell pits three notorious cheats against a simple-minded farmer, his water buffalo and a magic bell. The traditional gamelan orchestra is an integral part of a Topeng performance, with the musicians and performers taking their cues from each other. The costumed musicians sit on the ground in full view of the audience. Recorded authentic gamelan music is a possibility, augmented with live accompaniment. The flavor of the gamelan might be suggested by the use of a marimba or xylophone, a gong, bells, cymbals, drums, a windchime, and a bamboo flute. Other instruments for special effects might include a woodblock, claves, a ratchet, a triangle, sandpaper blocks, a guiro, a klaimba, a slide whistle and an autoharp. One set of musicians may play throughout the performance, or various actors may double as musicians. Bare stage w/props. Approximate Running Time: 60 minutes.