“Topéng ” is a word that refers both to the mask and to the dancedrama form. There is evidence of masked performance in Bali from the 9thCentury.
Topéng is improvised using stories based on historical chronicles (Babad) about the history of the kingdoms and families of Bali.
Each Topéng performance begins with 2 or 3 introductory dances: topéng Keras(Strong Prime Minister), Topéng Tua(Old Man) and, sometimes, Topéng Lucu(Funny Mask).
The story is told by the Penasar, a palace servant—sometimes there is a “big brother” (Kelihan or Kartala) and a “little brother” (Cenikan or Wijil),through their interactions with other characters which might include the King as well as a wide variety of comic local grotesque characters (Bondres).
The content of the play is very mixed. Elements include story, moral or religious lessons, jokes, local gossip, contemporary political commentary and history. The audience is free to move about during the performance so people watch the bits that interest them and leave if they are bored. There is no fixed length of Topéngperformance: it depends on the rapport between the audience and actors, the success of the comedy and the requirements of the ceremony for which it’s performed.
In the workshop we will learn the basic positions and movements for the strong male style of Balinese dance (that is applicable to many forms) including agem (standing position), angsel(transition), ulap-ulap (looking in the distance), nabdab gleung (touching the headdress), jalan (walking), malpal (quick march) and we will put them together to create our own Topéng Keras.We will then take this basic movement vocabulary and use it to explore the choreographies of other characters including Topeng Tua and Dalem,the refined king.
Participants will have the opportunity to become acquainted with traditional Balinese masks of Topéngdance-drama and understand the cultural context in which they are used. Participants will learn to read the iconography of the masks, the archetypes they represent, and their symbolic and spiritual significance. Most importantly, they will explore the movement vocabulary of each of the main full-mask characters and their relationship with the musical themes unique to each mask. There will also be work with the Penasar and Bondrés—comic, half-mask characters who tell the story. The workshop will culminate in a brief Topéng performance in which all the masks will have the chance to dance.
About Margaret Coldiron
Margaret trained as an actress at the Drama Centre, London and performed with the American Conservatory Theatre, San Francisco Repertory and the National Shakespeare Company, among others.
She has taught and directed at most of the major professional acting schools in the UK and at a number of universities in
the US and UK.
She is currently Acting Head of BA World Performance at East 15 Acting School.
She has studied Balinese Topéng dance-drama and mask making with Ida Bagus Alit, AA Gedé Ngurah, AA Anom Putra and I Nyoman Budiartha in Bali and continues her work in London with Ni Madé Pujawati.
She has also done field research on masked performance in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, India, Sri Lanka and Japan and performs and teaches regularly in the UK and abroad. She is a member of Lila Cita Gamelan and Lila Bhawa Dance Company and appeared with them at the Bali Arts Festival in 2006 and to which they will return in Summer 2015. She is the author of Trance & Transformation of the Masked Actor in Japanese Noh and Balinese Dance Drama (Edwin Mellen Press 2004).
About Asian Performing Arts UK
Our aim is the investigation of the diverse scenic arts from Japan, India and Indonesia among other Asian countries. We organize workshops, screenings and performances by dance and theatre practitioners from
all over the world who are strongly inspired by Asian Culture.
We focus on the origin of theatre through a contemporary approach. We wish to offer a space in which past and present coexist.
Even though nowadays ancient ritual practices have become secular, stylized and turned into art forms, we consider that it is extremely important to rescue them as they bear elements that are essential to today’s theatre.
Date: 15 – 16 November 2014
Time: 5 – 9 pm
Location: The Place, 16 Flaxman Terrace, WC1H 9AT, London, Studio 9
Concessions for Bookings made before 30th Oct 2014
- Single session: £ 40
- Full Workshop: £ 80
Concessions for Bookings made after 30th Oct 2014
- Single session: £ 50
- Full Workshop: £ 90
Bookings are made through online banking. The full workshop fee is required in order to book a place. Please state your name and include the following payment reference for the chosen workshops when making your online deposit in order for us to be ableto identify your payment:
“ BALI ”
If you are booking more than one workshop please make separated online payments for each workshop that you will be attending. Bookings are made into the following account:
ASIAN PERFORMING ARTS UK
Account number : 10117536
Sort code: 40-02-52
Cancellation Policy: Refunds should be requested 48 hours in advance and only under unforeseen circumstances such as illness or weather disruptions that prevent the participants from attending the workshop. Evidence should be presented.