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[Video] Watch Malaysian Puppeteers Bring the Story of Star Wars to Life

As times change, so does culture. The more Southeast Asian nations develop, incorporating global ideas, modern technology, and international pop culture into their societies, traditional arts like music, dance and theatrical performance are fading into obscurity.

Thankfully, when it comes to the challenge of staying relevant in an ever-modernizing world, there is an answer: Star Wars.

For Fusion Wayang Kulit, an organization which aims to revive the Malaysian art of wayang kulit, or shadow puppetry, by retelling modern stories through the traditional medium, the sci-fi cult classic is a perfect vehicle for re-engaging young Malaysians with their own culture, reports Al Jazeera.

The organization's founders, Tintoy Chuo and Take Huat, began creating wayang kulit versions of modern-day stories – from Superman to Star Wars – in an effort to help young Malaysians connect with a dying art. By using a story which many people recognize, Chuo tells Al Jazeera, the organization aims to spark an interest in traditional arts among the younger generation.

As the epic saga's latest installment, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, premieres across the globe, Fusion Wayang Kulit and its master puppeteer, Muhammad Dain Othman, are re-enacting the original 1970s sci-fi cult classic with intricately etched leather puppets and traditional Malaysian music.

In each 15-minute performance, Othman acts as both puppeteer and narrator of the story, manipulating traditional Malaysian Stormtroopers and spaceships behind a screen. Each of Star Wars' iconic characters are present, including artistic renditions of R2-D2, C-3PO, Darth Vader and the Millennium Falcon.

In addition to Fusion Wayang Kulit's traditional renditions of modern-day tales, Othman has also opened a gallery and training school for wayang kulit musicians, puppeteers and craftspeople to help keep the art alive. At the moment, Fusion Wayang Kulit is seeking funding to continue its endeavor but has received permission from Lucas Films to use the story in its performances.

[Photo via Inquirer]

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