Jarang sekali kita bertemu minda kreatif seperti Tintoy Chuo. Seorang peneraju seni yang bersemangat tinggi dan berdaya ingin tahu yang padu, Tintoy benar-benar ingin menengahkan ciptaannya iaitu “fusion wayang kulit”. Mungkin konsepnya sedikit ganjil buat tatapan kita, tetapi Tintoy nekad untuk melanjutkan seni wayang kulit ke status relevan pada abad ke-21, dengan pendekatan yang menghiburkan dan menyungkil pemikiran.

Kami berbincang sejenak bersama Tintoy, dan menyelami minatnya terhadap seni wayang kulit, serta meminta nasihatnya buat anak muda yang ingin berkecimpung dalam arena seni.

Apakah motivasi utama di sebalik penglibatan anda dalam seni wayang kulit?

Semuanya bermula apabila kami dijemput menyertai suatu pameran seni pada tahun 2012. Pada masa itu, saya sudah lama tidak berkarya melalui format tradisional tempatan. Minat saya berpaut kepada seni wayang kulit, oleh kerana tumpuannya terhadap betapa pentingnya konsep watak dalam persembahan, kerana saya juga seorang character designer (pereka watak). Tapi saya enggan melakukan apa yang biasa dipersembahkan secara tradisi. “Jom kita buat yang lain daripada yang lain!” Saya campur-adukkan seni tradisi dengan tema yang futuristik, dan akhirnya memutuskan untuk membuat persembahan wayang kulit bertemakan Star Wars!

Saya memang peminat tegar siri filem Star Wars, dan sememangnya francais filem itu popular dan difahami ramai. Mak saya pun kenal Darth Vader tu siapa! Saya sedar, jika kita ingin ketengahkan budaya seni yang mungkin sedikit tenggelam, yang pentingnya kita harus mengikat seni itu dengan sesuatu yang popular di kalangan orang muda. Akhirnya, saya mengubahsuai filem-filem itu menjadi Peperangan Bintang, dan memperkenalkan dua patung wayang kulit dari siri itu: Sangkala Vedeh (Darth Vader), dan Perantau Langit (Luke Skywalker)..

Apakah cabaran yang anda hadapi dalam pembikinan Peperangan Bintang. Apa pula penyelesaiannya?

Semuanya mencabar! Saya tak lah arif sangat pasal wayag kulit, jadi saya kenalah belajar dari mula. Selama dua bulan, kumpulan kami mereka patung wayang kulit dan menyadurkan elemen sains fiksyen ke atas rekabentuk tradisional – patung yang memakai sarung, tapi senjatanya lightsaber. Reaksi yang kami terima cukup menggalakkan, jadi kami pun terus membina lagi projek itu. Saya bertemu dengan seorang tok dalang yang tersohor, dan kami mempersembahkan Peperangan Bintang bersama-sama. Ini tak pernah dilakukan oleh sesiapa pun sebelum kami. Tiada contoh yang boleh kami rujuk. Pada mulanya, kami benar-benar bersendirian dengan idea kami semata-mata.

Setelah menimba ilmu tentang sejarah dan kesenian wayang kulit, pada pendapat anda ke mana arah tujuan budaya itu? Adakah Tintoy dan rakan-rakan sahaja yang menjayakan karya sebegini?

Kami menggelar karya kami ‘fusion wayang kulit’, bukan wayang kulit moden. Memang kami modenkan beberapa aspek, tapi wayang kulit moden sebenarnya sudah wujud sejak tahun 80an lagi. Ia popular di Kedah, dan dipanggil oleh anak seni di sana ‘wayng gedek’. Jadi, apa yang kami buat ini bukannya wayang kulit moden. Dari segi fusion wayang kulit, ya, kami saja yang cukup gila nak buat kerja gila ni! Tapi buat budaya wayang kulit keseluruhannya, kumpulan penggiat yang benar-benar menonjol tak sampai 20 pun di seluruh negara, dari Kelantan ke Johor Baru.

Setelah mula berkecimpung dengan seni wayang kulit, saya mula menyedari bahawa seni ini agak terancam, kerana kurang anak muda yang meminatinya. Tapia pa yang kami lakukan dengan fusion wayang kulit bukannya usaha untuk mengembalikan wayang kulit ke tahap yang disegani. Kami hanya mahu menaikkan kesedaran tentang seni yang indah ini.

Apakah nasihat Tintoy buat anak muda yang ingin melibatkan diri dalam seni wayang kulit?

Tok dalang saya dari Kelantan, Pak Daim Othman, ada berpesan kepada saya: wayang kulit bukan hanya mereka patung. Patung itu hanya satu langkah dalam proses yang lanjut. Seni dalang itu lagi satu langkah, muziknya juga langkah yang mustahak. Banyak aspek yang ada pada budaya ini. Nasihat saya buat mereka yang berminat: pergilah tonton persembahan wayang kulit. Kalau ada bengkel seni wayang kulit, turut serta. Sesetengah tok dalang menyediakan pakej ‘homestay’ di mana anak murid boleh tinggal bersama mereka di kampung dan mempelajari pelbagai aspek yang berkait dengan wayang kulit. Dari situ, anak murid boleh memilih aspek seni yang laing sesuai dengan minat dan kebolehan mereka.

Apa pun, saya minta anak muda kaji dulu apa sekali pun bidang kreatif yang mereka minati. Di internet sahaja ada pelbagai sumber untuk dibuat kajian. Secara peribadi, saya rasa seseorang itu harus tahu sedikit sebanyak perihal sesuatu budaya atau bidang seni sebelum dia menanya soalan bertubi-tubi kepada seorang pakar. Tidak apa kalau kita silap pada mulanya. Misalnya, pada mula kajian saya tentang wayang kulit, saya terlajak terus ke budaya wayang kulit yang diamalkan di Indonesia dan Turki. Padahal, kalau saya khususkan kajian ke wayang kulit Malaysia saja mungkin lebih berkesan!
Fusion Wayang Kulit oleh Tintoy Chuo akan dipamerkan di Jelajah Kampus di Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang pada 15 Mei 2016. Untuk maklumat lanjut mengenai Tintoy dan projek fusion wayang kulitnya, layari www.facebook.com/FusionWayangKulit
It’s rare to come across someone like Tintoy Chuo these days. Someone who is a true pioneer, passionate and inquisitive about the craft he’s chosen to pursue. “Fusion wayang kulit” is a new term these days, but it’s likely to become a popular one, thanks to Tintoy’s work. By bringing the traditional art form of wayang kulit into the 21st century and beyond, fusion wayang kulit is sure to both delight and provoke.

We speak with Tintoy about what got him interested in wayang kulit, and what he thinks young people need to get started in the creative arts.

What was the guiding motivation for you to start being involved in wayang kulit?

It all started when we participated in an art exhibition in 2012. It had been a while since I had done something from our own culture, and when I saw wayang kulit, the watak element connected with me as a character designer. But I didn't want to make something traditional, as many people had already done it. "Let's think differently!" I said, and I decided to combine this old and traditional art form with something very futuristic. I ended up choosing Star Wars! Number one, I'm a big fan of Star Wars. And number two, Star Wars is something popular. Even my mom knows who Darth Vader is! I didn't want the project to die before it even started, and I knew I had to pair this underexposed art with something that was popular [to get people's attention]. Thus, we revealed two wayang kulit puppets at the exhibition based on my character design. They are from Peperangan Bintang, called Sangkala Vedeh (Darth Vader) and Perantau Langit (Luke Skywalker).

What kind of challenges did you face during that whole process? How did you overcome those challenges?

Everything was a challenge! I didn't know much about wayang kulit, so I had to learn about it, crash-course style. We had a little over two months to work on the puppets, to convert the wayang characters into something futuristic - wearing sarongs and also carrying lightsabers. The response we got after revealing the puppets was good, so we carried on doing it. Then I met the tok dalang, and we did a show. Nobody had done this before. We didn't have a sample to see. We now had to do something to become that sample for people to see. When we started, we were literally on our own.

Now that you've become more informed about the culture and history of wayang kulit, where do you see the scene for wayang kulit now? Are you the only ones doing what you're doing?

We call ourselves 'fusion wayang kulit', not modern. We modernize, yes, but modern wayang kulit has been around since the late '80s. It's more famous in Kedah; they call it wayang gedek. So we can't tell them that we are modern wayang kulit! In fusion wayang kulit? Yes. We're the only team that's crazy enough to go this way. But for wayang kulit as a whole, there are less than 20 groups in Malaysia, from Johor Bahru to Kedah and Kelantan, which is the most prominent. Kelantan is where I met my tok dalang.

After we started doing this, we do see that there is more awareness about wayang kulit. When we first began, I was worried that it was a dying art. And to be clear, what we're doing is not about reviving it. It's about creating awareness. I do believe we contribute a little bit towards public awareness on wayang kulit.

What would your advice be to young people who want to try to get into wayang kulit?

Based on what my tok dalang Pak Daim Othman told me, wayang kulit is not just about drawing the puppet. Making the puppet is another step in the process. The art of dalang is another, and the art of music is yet another. So it's quite a lot of things. My advice to whoever wants to get involved in this, is to go see wayang kulit, or even to attend a wayang kulit workshop. Some dalangs offer homestay programs where you can learn how to make the puppets, watch wayang kulit, learn how to play the music and of course the art of dalang. The person can then see which area of wayang kulit he likes and then go further in that direction. 

I do however would advise young people to do their own research before getting into any creative activity. There are a lot of things you can search for on the internet, for example. I personally think people should understand a little about the art form first, before asking [the experts] questions. I'm not asking people to believe everything they read! What I'm saying is to research and compare. If you don't understand, then ask. When I first studied wayang kulit, I read up on a different kind of wayang kulit without realizing it. There's wayang kulit from Indonesia and from Turkey, from example. So that was time I could have spent researching wayang kulit Malaysia.
Tintoy Chuo will be showcasing his Fusion Wayang Kulit at Jelajah Kampus at Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang on 15 May 2016. For more on Tintoy’s fusion wayang kulit project, check out www.facebook.com/FusionWayangKulit