Rama and the Worm: A Performance-Based Approach to Health Promotion in Rural Indonesia

  • Dan Bendrups
  • Donald Stewart
  • Joko Susilo


This chapter presents a discussion of Rama and the Worm: a new wayang kulit play composed as part of a health promotion campaign in rural Java, Indonesia. Drawing on theoretical foundations in applied ethnomusicology, this chapter describes how the project evolved from the initial concept through to a fully developed play manuscript, and reflects on the choices made in determining the shape, scale and thematic content of the performance. It also provides a discussion of the ways in which these choices either align with or depart from established practice in wayang kulit performance. In conclusion, the chapter proposes that Rama and the Worm provides an effective demonstration of how traditional performance practices can be effectively used to support health promotion in a rural context.



The authors thank Budi Laksono and Darren Gray for their comments on a draft version of this chapter. Rama and the Worm is an outcome of the research project ‘Puppetry and Health Promotion’ funded by a 2016 UNESCO Australian National Commission grant. The project received further support from Griffith University, the University of Otago and La Trobe University, and especially from the La Trobe University Research Focus Area ‘Transforming Human Societies’ in the form of a Partnership Grant. The authors also acknowledge the financial support of the UBS-Optimus Foundation, which funded the BALatrine research project in Central Java.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dan Bendrups
    • 1
  • Donald Stewart
    • 2
  • Joko Susilo
    • 3
  1. 1.La Trobe UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Griffith UniversityBrisbaneAustralia
  3. 3.University of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand

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