Online Event! “Nicotiana: A Shadow Puppet Play with Crankies” by Rumput, featuring Balinese puppeteer I Gusti Putu Sudarta on 4/29 at 8 p.m.

The UConn Asian and Asian American Studies Institute, UConn Puppet Arts Program, and Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry present a talkback about Nicotiana: A Shadow Puppet Play with Crankies by Rumput, featuring Balinese puppeteer I Gusti Putu Sudarta. The talkback will take place on Facebook Live ( on April 29 at 8 p.m. EST. The talkback will also take place in Indonesian on April 29 at 9 a.m. EST (9 p.m. Central Indonesia Time, 8 p.m. Western Indonesia Time) on Facebook Live. Both versions of the talkback will be available afterwards on Facebook and the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry YouTube Channel ( Viewers are invited to watch in advance the recording of Nicotiana (

This talkback, moderated by Professor Matthew Isaac Cohen (University of Connecticut), is a discussion of the creative process of the co-creators of the music-theater production Nicotiana: Dr. Andy McGraw (University of Richmond) and Dr. I Gusti Putu Sudarta (Indonesian Institute for the Arts in Denpasar). This intercultural collaboration between shadow master Gusti Sudarta from Bali, Indonesia and the string-band group Rumput from Richmond, Virginia involves traditional arts from Indonesia—specifically wayang kulit (shadow puppet theater) and keroncong music—mixed with crankies, or moving panoramas, and old-time string band music. This production focuses on the history of the global tobacco industry, with an emphasis on Virginia and western Indonesia. While the east coast U.S. tour of Nicotiana was cancelled due to Covid-19, the ensemble recorded the work before it disbanded and self-quarantined. The talkback will address the collaborative process, the work’s main messages regarding tobacco, and future bi-national collaborative projects. Viewers are invited to watch in advance the recording of Nicotiana ( The music ensemble Rumput plays keroncong (a string-band tradition from Indonesia) and explores parallel threads with other traditions, especially old-time string-band music of the United States and British Isles, and Indonesian gamelan. The company produces multimedia performances involving traditional and original music paired with shadow theater comprising elements of American and Indonesian traditions: crankies (scrolling panoramas) and wayang (shadow puppets). Rumput has performed internationally, including tours and residencies in Java in 2017 and 2018, performing with local artists at each stop, and collaborating with Indonesian master artists including Danis Sugiyanto, Peni Candrarini, Endah Laras, Ubiet Raseuki, and Gusti Sudarta.

Dalang (shadow master) I Gusti Putu Sudarta Ph.D., was born into a family of artists in Bedulu (Bali, Indonesia), and has been performing music, dance, and shadow theater since he was six years old. He is a permanent faculty member in the puppetry department at the Indonesian Institute of the Arts in Denpasar (Bali) and holds a master’s and Ph.D. in theater from the National Institute of Arts in Solo, Java. He regularly performs various forms of traditional Balinese music, mask dance, and wayang kulit (shadow puppet theater) in ceremonial contexts and has taken part in several international tours and inter-cultural experimental music and theater productions.

This talkback is sponsored by the Asian and Asian American Studies Institute at the University of Connecticut, in collaboration with the UConn Puppet Arts Program and the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry.