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Academics' familiarity with the written word has tended to lead them to subordinate the many ways that humans (re)present, demonstrate and engage with the world in terms of textuality. As a result the importance of spectacle and performance has been sidelined. This point was famously made by Artaud in his criticism of Western theatre compared with Balinese. The works below start to rethink how social life may often usefully be considered as performance.

Audio-visual materials

Together with the Balinese actor-dancer Ni Madé Pujawati and other Balinese colleagues, I have been engaged over the last thirty years in a range of performances and a long-running project to record and document Balinese and Indonesian theatre and television. For a selection of the videos, click here.

With Dr Nick Gray, Ni Madé Pujawati and I are engaged in a project (Matemahan-Transformation) exploring how Balinese presuppositions about the world as ceaselessly transforming express themselves in music and theatre. Here is a preview.


Among the performances, these may be of special interest:

A Balinese masked Dramatari, Tuan Tepis, about the role of Walter Spies in Balinese arts: Video;  Synopsis.

An Arja performance set in modern Bali: They met in Tampaksiring: Video Part 1; Part 2Part 3; Part 4

Synopsis in English;  Synopsis & Script in Indonesian and Balinese.

A reimagining of Artaud’s encounter with Balinese Theatre at the Paris Exposition: Artaud.

Works on theatre and performance

2020.    The transformable Balinese body. Paper for SOAS research project Matemahan-Transformation.

2013. Live or dead? televised theatre and its audiences in Bali. Faculti Media interview.

2010. Rich kids can’t cry: reflections on the viewing subject in Bali. Special issue Audiencing: the Work of the Spectator in Live Performance. About Performance 10: 199-222. 

2008. The Prince of Nusa’s vow - English translationOriginal Balinese text (unpub.)

2007. Rethinking Balinese dance. In M. Cohen, A. Lopez y Royo and L. Nozlopy, Indonesian performing arts in a transnational context, special issue of Indonesia and the Malay World, 35: 107-28.

2006. Damp dreams: some problems with dance in Bali. In Music, Ritual, and Performance. Special issue of Musiké, Spring.

2002. Lances greased with pork fat: imagining difference in Bali - with Introduction. In Imagined Differences: hatred and the construction of identity. ed. G. Schlee, Hamburg & London: LIT Verlag, 101-22.

—& Pujawati, M. 2001. Arja: theatre where women rule. Seleh notes 8, 3: 1, 8-10.

2000. Live or dead? how dialogic is theatre in Bali? In To change Bali: essays in honour of I Gusti Ngurah Bagus. eds. A. Vickers & Ny. Darma Putra with M. Ford, Denpasar: Bali Post.

1991. The windmills of criticism: on understanding theatre in Bali. unpublished paper.

1991. Criticizing genres: Bakhtin and Bali. In Voice, genre, text - anthropological essays in Africa and beyond. eds. P. Baxter & R. Fardon, Manchester: Bulletin of the John Ryland Library, Univ. of Manchester 73, 3, 195-216.

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