An Open Love Letter to Pesta Boneka

Dear Pesta Boneka,

It was two years ago, at the beginning of the Travelling Light Project that I first came across you. I was ‘cold emailing’ theatre and puppetry companies all over the world (thinking they might be the kind of people who would like my crazy idea of gathering objects). Whilst searching for a company in Indonesia, I found Papermoon Puppet Theatre. I thought their work looked beautiful and made with purpose, little did I know how important they and you would become to me.

The last moments of Pesta Boneka and the sky cried with us

I sent Papermoon an email asking if they would like to send an object. They replied with a proposition…would you like to bring your work to Pesta Boneka our biennial puppet festival? I didn’t even have a performance at that time but who wants to say no to that kind of offer?! So I replied saying I would love to come to the next one!!

Fast forward to October 2018 and with version 2 of the performance ready, I packed the Travelling Light suitcase with 88 objects around the globe and set off to meet you Pesta Boneka. This year’s festival was aptly named The Journey - it was as if it was meant to be.

The Welcome Dinner

After two planes and a 12 hour journey, I arrived in Yogyayarka, just in time for the opening/welcoming dinner. This is where I learnt that you are the definition of welcoming. Strangers from all over the world, fresh arrivals like myself, others who had been there before, we all gathered together at the Papermoon Studios. We sat together on the floor, eating off gisnt leaves with our hands, facing one another, sharing food whilst taking our first steps to building new global connections. I knew you were something very special indeed, the people in that room were going to make it so.

Pesta Boneka you were three beautiful days of performances, workshops, talks and discussions with theatre companies from 13 countries. I performed my work for you on the Friday night, 3 times back to back in the end, because so many people wanted to see the show. On the Saturday morning I ran a workshop - an Introduction to Object Theatre. I enjoyed sharing my work with others immensely but Pesta Boneka you are so much more than that. I saw so many inspiring diverse performances, the workshops were so enriching and the practitioners so humble. Squished between all this were creative chats with so many artists and audience members - it was exhaustingly exhilarating that I hardly slept even when I had the chance!

Travelling Light mid performance of The World in a Suitcase

Travelling Light Workshop - An Introduction to Object Theatre

International artists had flown in especially for you Pesta Boneka, which yes was pretty cool but it was the local artists and their supporters that left an impression on me. They worked their socks off with smiles ear to ear, guiding everyone, setting up spaces and leading discussions. You are a massive operation, using many venues - even transforming a village into a feast of a puppet festival for the final day and I don’t know how to thank these people enough.

It is worth noting too that it was the first time in my life, I didn’t hear a single person complaining. I was constantly met by positive, kind, creative, inquisitive people. Imagine if there was more of these kinds of people in positions of power around the globe, we could be looking at a very different global future…

When Puppeteers Cook - I made a family favourite, Apple Crumble and Custard with help from Anwar and Gwen.

It was right at the end of Pesta Boneka (literally before I ran out of the door to get in the taxi that was waiting for me) that two years after our first contact, Ria from Papermoon Puppet Theatre gave me my Indonesian object. You can see him in the picture below, a little bit of Papermoon for my suitcase. But you have given me so much more.

You gave me Pesta Boneka. A festival of sharing, a place for feasting, giving and taking, a time for light and dark, of thought provoking, artistically beautiful, stretching the genre of puppetry in all directions experience. Pesta Boneka you will forever have a place in my suitcase and my heart. Thank you.

Until we meet again.

Rosy – Travelling Light Project.


© 2016 Travelling Light Project.