Very basic and preliminary thoughts on current performance styles in pedhalangan*:
Refers to a traditional treatment of a lakon, which approximately follows the basic structure of scenes:
In this style, a traditional repertoire of iringan and sulukan are used, as well as traditional janturan and pocapan. There is a debate as to whether to refer to this traditional treatment as "tradisi", "klasik", "biasa", "kuna", "konvensi", or some other term. Within "klasik" there is a definite distinction in most dhalangs' minds between the more strict structure (in terms of scene content, catur, sulukan, and iringan) codified by the Kraton and Mangkunegaran in the early 1900's, and the myriad of styles used in Klaten and other outlying areas from the past through to this day--yet all coming under the umbrella of what is currently referred to as "klasik" or "tradisi".
Refers to a concept developed at ASKI in the 1970's, under the influence of the late Bp. Gendhon Humardani, in which an all-night wayang is condensed down to anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. The lakon is not simply abbreviated (that would be referred to as ringkas). Rather, dramatic structure is somewhat turned inside-out and the focus is heavily on the essence/main message of the lakon, and exploration of the main characters. Scenes are pared down to only what is considered important in terms of theme, message, and character development, and the traditional placement of scenes may be radically altered according to dramatic requirements. Many changes follow in iringan as well, so that iringan can closely follow and serve dramatic function.
ALL NIGHT GARAPAN (GARAPAN SEDALU)
Somewhat recently (in the past say, 15-18 years) a number of dhalang have begun craft all-night wayang along a similar vein as padhat, in that conventional structures are loosened, and each lakon is approached somewhat as an individual entity which may have specific and individual dramatic requirements that drive its shape and determine how sabet, sanggit, catur, and iringan will be crafted. A variety of techniques are used such as prologues, flashbacks, combining of lakon, newly written janturan and pocapan, and access to a wide variety of iringan sources (Solonese, Nartosabdan, Sundanese, Yogyanese, East Javanese). Ki Purbo Asmoro is at the very forefront of developments in this movement, and also teaches concepts in garapan (both padhat and all-night) at ISI.
Everytime Ki Purbo performs, his musicians will ask "klasik or garapan?" and the answer then guides them when preparing what notation to bring, what to be ready for, and whether there will most likely be rehearsals or not (as there will be in the case of garapan). In a generic sense of course, "garapan" simply refers to treatment or interpretation. As many dhalang commented at the Diskusi Dhalang, "any performance worth watching since the beginning of time has reflected garapan on the part of the dhalang," meaning thought, care, creativity, and ingenuity. However recently, this term has come to have a specific meaning in the pedhalangan world, and refers to a performance in which the dhalang is employing the concepts and techniques described briefly above.
Wayang as purely entertainment and a kind of variety show
This approach is in contrast, and should not be confused with, all-night garapan. It has been developing since the late 1980's, and is a style in which the entertainment value of a wayang is more highly emphasized than the storyline or messages the lakon holds. In this approach, Limbukan and Gara-Gara can sometimes go on for more than 90 minutes each, perang sequences are lengthened, janturan and pocapan are simplified and shortened, and a variety of sensational techniques employed such as flashing lights, sound effects, rock bands, stand-up comedians and the like. For a thorough discussion of this phenomena, please read the last chapter ("Gara-Gara") of Jan Mrazek's book, Phenomenology of a Puppet Theatre.
The Lontar documentation project examines the differences between klasik, padhat, and all-night garapan. It does not document the "wayang as purely entertainment" trend.
*The way the styles are being defined in these preliminary thoughts is based on experience watching and participating in wayang (1991-present), discussions with a variety of dhalang over that period as well, fairly intensive discussions with Ki Purbo Asmoro over a period of four+ years (2004-2009), compilation of the opinions that were expressed during the Dhalang Discussion on 25 October 2008 in Benawa, as well as data from subsequent follow-up interviews.