I created a prototype for the wayang character I have in mind. The character needs to show subtle alteration of his / her appearance, caused by westernization but still has bo recognizable as an authentic Indonesian shadow puppets.
After reading the full translated scripts of three stories that are often performed in wayang kulit : The Reincarnation of Rama, Irawan's Wedding, and the Death of Karna. [source: On Thrones of Gold] I have come to undestand more about the relation, personalities and dynamics of the Wayang characters.
In a wayang live performances, the same characters are often represented by two or more puppets. The unique instance of each character is called the 'wanda'. The wanda of each characters mostly painted in gold and black. The gold versions normally are used in a calm final scene and the black ones in battle scenes. The gold wanda often has calmer facial expression and on the other hand the black ones carry anger or tensed emotion.
The two wandas of 'Semar' - clown servant to the Pandawas. [On Thrones of Gold]
Prince Arjuna in his gold wanda. [On Thrones of Gold]
I plan to limit the number of characters for this project to three. I am hoping to build a story on moral issues with the characters and have the characters features and personalities studied from their history. What is intriguing to me is the strong brotherhood of The Pandawas [five brothers of princes] The five brothers of Pandawas are Yudhistira, Bima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sadewa.
Among the five, I studied Bima and Arjuna the most because of their intriguing differences in the story. I learned that Bima is the biggest in their physical appearance but yet, Arjuna is known as the most excellent knight. Bima on one of the dialogs that he says to his other brothers in 'The Reincarnation of Rama'
Bima: Brother, you're too upset. You know Arjuna. He enjoys running away making us come after him. Besides, if I knew where to search I would. I'd give my life to save him. But to go looking after where he might be anywhere! That's foolish, Brother! [The Reincarnation of Rama]
Bima is a caring older brother of Arjuna and despite all the glory of his younger brother, he respects him very much for Arjuna's bravery and willing to sacrifice himself for Arjuna's safety. Bima is described as "wise on the ways of the world... Travels, alone, accompanied only by the whirlwinds. His path is straight, his stride as broad as the horizon." [The Reincarnation of Rama]
The prototype made for Bima is a character that has a lot of feature to be a biker. I imagine this character to travel alone on his big motorbike with the wind blowing on his hair, outgoing well built and not very neat in terms of fashion.
Arjuna, is know for his rounded excellence, he is very fast in making his decisions, as it was told in the story of 'The Reincarnation of Rama' as there was an abduction of his cousin's sister, princess Sumbadra, Arjuna left right away to rescue her without letting the others including the King (princess Sumbadra's brother) know of his departure. Arjuna also known to be very charming in his appearance, besides that he enjoys challenge and supernaturally very powerful.
In the Wayang stories Arjuna is told to have seven wives. The women in the wayang are mainly well educated pricesses. In the old story women are placed lower than the men. For e.g.: When Princess Sumbadra (at that moment already become Arjuna's first wive) was dissapointed with Arjuna's decision in divorcing his own son Abimanyu's marriage to Siti Sendari, Arjjuna responded to her "Your place is in the kitchen, woman. Leave this to me." [Irawan's Wedding]
However there are some women characters that are intelligent and are also involved in action such as Srikandi, Arjuna's second wive a skilled archer. As the women characters can be pulled from the outside of the 'kingdom'
I am thinking of building a girl character that has a significantly different values than the other two characters. She can have more than just westernized on the outside but also doesn't keep her original custom and values anymore.