THEATRE REVIEW: Bali Agung: The Legend of the Balinese Goddesses

There’s truly a lot to write home about my recent visit to Bali. For instance, I want to share more details about the fact that it is a completely Hindu country – replete with rituals, ceremonies and traditions. Really, I am quite enchanted by that island. It has everything – from a beautiful sea all around to mountains and an active volcanoe, and from tradidional Balinese massage and all kinds of water-sports at Nusa Dua to a ‘clubbing area’ for party poopers called Kuta. I will try and cover some of it in the next 2 posts in this 3-part series on Bali.

For now though, I will restrict this post to writing about something very special that Shruti and I saw there. At Bali Safari & Marine Park (bound to remind you of the Night Safari/Jurong Bird Park in Singapore), the Bali Theatre hosts a very special theatrical performance called ‘Bali Agung: The Legend of the Balinese Goddesses’. The play tells the story of the 12th century Hindu King of Bali – King Sri Jaya Pangus and his beloved wife Kang Chng Wie, daughter of a Chinese merchant. As the king steos out of home after many years of unsuccesfully trying for a child, he is seduced by Dewi Danu, the Goddess of fertility.

I will not disclose more of the story – and would instead, leave that for my readers to discover and perhaps experience the theatre in person. Rather, I would like to dwell on the fact that the lighting, stage, effects, costumes and the overall granduer was of a very high quality – perhaps even better than in production quality to the last theatre I had seen at the Esplanade Theatre in Singapore – and that was ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ – by Andrew Lloyd Webber (Read my review here).

What makes ‘Bali Agung’ stand out is the vivid marriage of music, visuals, storytelling, human performers and animals from Bali Safari. The 5 seem to integrate seamlessly to create an experience that is very pleasing to see from a distance on the wide stage in front of you at Bali Theatre. Although there are 180 performers in the show, and perhaps many more who work behind the stage, the 3 people who deserve a special mention are the Creative Director Peter J Wilson, the Balinese Choreogpraher I Made Sidia and for some ground-breaking music – Chong Lim, the Australian composer who also composed the music for the closing ceremony of the 2006 Olympics.

By the way, in case of any of you reading this are visiting Bali soon, please get me a CD of the music of this production by Chong Lim. It is available right outside the performance area. Let me leave you with the trailer of the production on the Theatre’s official Youtube Channel.

For more pics, schedules and details, do check out: www.balitheatre.com

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