The sun began to set and the yellow electric lights of the theatre came on at the Prambanan temple complex near Yogyakarta (locally known as “Jogja”) in Indonesia. I was there to watch the famous Ramayana ballet that takes place every night. In summer, the performance is in the open-air theatre, against the backdrop of the towering temples. But since it was cold, we had settled into the cosy indoors.
The orchestra at the back of the stage — complete with local versions of the mridangam and the harmonium — began to strum traditional tunes, signalling the start of the show. Having grown up with the epic, I was not sure what to expect, but I was looking forward to a new interpretation. As it turned out, the performance — with over 200 actors in traditional costume — was fascinating.