Shadow puppets and neglected diseases: evaluating a health promotion performance

29 August 2017

  • Sector: Arts and Culture
  • Country location: Australia, Indonesia
  • Grantee: Griffith University
Artwork of humanoid figure and worm figure with the words: Rama dan cacing, Rama and the worm.
Photo: Rama and the Worm' DVD: drama on sanitation and hygiene to prevent parasites in village communities (Credit: Dr Dan Bendrups).

Project description

'Rama and the Worm' is a new shadow puppet (wayang kulit) play composed as part of a health promotion campaign in Central Java, to reduce the impact of parasitic diseases such as soil-transmitted helminths. The project uses Javanese shadow puppetry as a vehicle for disseminating health advice and promoting behaviour change to prevent diseases caused, primarily, by inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene. The health education messages contained in the play, although using traditional characters and themes such as the meta-theme of conflict between Rama and Ravana, has required the creation of a completely new narrative script, using characters and plot lines familiar to the wayang kulit repertoire, but placing them in new situations that relate specifically to health promotion objectives. The musical accompaniment is a musical-cultural fusion involving both the traditional musical accompaniment of Javanese gamelan and Western instruments, especially rock band instrumentation. This project is designed to test and evaluate the impact of this new play with its combination of traditional performance form and non-standard musical accompaniment.

Key dates

Planning meeting, Indonesia: Jakarta, Semarang, Wonosobo, 17/05/2017 to 21/05/2017

Trial of DVD in non-sample village, Wonosobo, 30/05/2017 to 30/06/2017

Implementation of DVD in 4 village communities, Wonosobo, 01/10/2017 to 01/11/2017

Exhibition in Jakarta and Brisbane, Jakarta/Brisbane, 20/11/2017 to 15/12/2017

  • Australia-Indonesia Institute grant offer: $22,000 (GST included)
  • Total project value: $64,000
  • Website:
Last Updated: 1 August 2018