We had the unique opportunity to see a performance that fused not only visual art and music but also two different cultures. The shadow ballads groups consisted of American Old Time musicians and artists and Indonesian Kroncong musicians. The musicians/artists are currently engaged in a collaborative residency at the University of Richmond in which they explore, juxtapose, and blend various aspects of their music and the unique art associated with it. Both groups brought visuals to accompany their music. We turned off the lights on several occasions so that we could observe the Indonesian tradition of shadow puppet play. The puppet play took place behind a large elaborate wooden frame in the center of the stage. Flat, leather puppets called Wayang (shadow) and Kulit (puppet) flitted and danced behind the screen in time with the music.
Where the Indonesians presented shadow puppetry with their music, the American duo -- Anna Roberts-Gevalt and Elizabeth LaPrelle -- brought handmade 'crankies' to the stage to accompany their Old Time ballads and storytelling. A 'crankie' is the contemporary version of a moving panorama. When moving panoramas first emerged in American and Europe in the 19th century, they usually involved very large and long painted scrolls. The unrolling of these scrolls would often be accompanied by music or story. Anna and Elizabeth first presented a quilted crankie and then showcased a crankie which they lit from behind to silhouette imagery directly related to the tale they told together.