Usually being a puppeteer is a hereditary talent from his parents. The son of a puppeteer can be a puppeteer without formal learning. He followed his father while performing the puppeteer by bringing the equipment, setting the stage, arranging the puppet characters and preparing the puppets to be played.
Most of the talent for the puppeteer is obtained from his father who is a puppeteer. However, this is not the case with Larry Allen Santoso, 11 years old from Surakarta. Larry grew up from both parents of Chinese descent, did not have the slightest background in the puppeteer profession. Indeed, they can understand Javanese because they live in Solo, but they use Indonesian in their daily conversations at home.
So what attracted Larry to puppets? He told VOA, “At that time, through the square, there was someone selling wayang, (figure) Abhimanyu. Larry was interested, so papa bought it for him. Yes, I’m interested in the carvings in the puppets, but I don’t understand.”
At first Larry did not know about wayang, especially at that time Larry was in an international school. But after moving to a private Indonesian school, Larry was taught Javanese in one of his subjects. That’s what makes him know more and little by little understand the story of wayang and then want to become a puppeteer.
Larry’s mother, Olivia Kristantyo, who accompanied Larry when VOA met her, was happy that her only son liked wayang, “I see that he has advantages and uniqueness that is different from others, like being a puppeteer, not all children want to do it without my encouragement. But he did study. For me, let the child’s talent develop, it doesn’t have to be academically,” he said.
In fact, Olivia told that Larry had a speech delay (speech delay) . “When he was 3 years old, Larry could only say one word. He’s also dyslexic,” Olivia said. So he took Larry to a child development expert, Diaz Robertus, who owns a Maximum Therapy Clinic in Surakarta.
Motivation, confidence, independence,
When VOA asked how a child who has speech delays and dyslexia can now even become a puppeteer, who has the requirement to memorize dialogues and stories from each scene, and must be rich in vocabulary?
Diaz’s therapist explains, “It’s a very complex skill, there are emotions too… so when he’s reading a story, there’s an emotion in it that he has to let out, and it has to fit the story. For children with special needs, motivation, self-confidence and independence, these 3 things I always pursue. Well, children when they get these three things, will be able to do many things beyond their imagination.”
In his daily life, Larry likes to play puppets. So far, he has performed twice, the first on his 9th birthday and in a World Puppet Day festival. Larry chooses the stories he will perform, such as Bima Maguru and Gatotkaca Jedi.
Larry has two master puppeteers. One of his private teachers, Kukuh Ridho Laksono, who has taught Larry for 3 years, said, “In WA, he already has a storyline. Mas, I want to play this, then he wrote the storyline. The desire is there, then for the ability to have a good voice, not fake in the gamelan barrel. Then I played and he imitated, so that the tone matched the gamelan.”
According to Kukuh, teaching children at Larry’s age must be smart to understand the way his thoughts and feelings are. Sometimes they admire characters or superheroes in movies or videos. So as a teaching puppeteer, Kukuh made Larry aware that in the wayang there are also many heroes, for example Bima, Gatotkaca, Arjuna and many others.
Larry’s mother provided a set of puppets along with the screen because Larry likes to play puppets while practicing his puppetry skills at home.
“Larry’s dream is to be a mastermind until he goes abroad. I want to be an international puppeteer, so that everyone knows wayang, can know Indonesian wayang,” he concluded, closing his conversation with VOA.
Hopefully a figure like Larry will be followed by more and more Indonesian children who admire and preserve the culture of their ancestors. [ps/em]