‘Complete puppeteer’ has become one of the nicknames for a famous puppeteer who now lives in Surakarta, namely Purbo Asmoro. His ability to process stories, his shrewdness in animating the characters of wayang kulit, his agility in processing strokes, his cleverness in explaining the details of wayang, and he can also play gamelan, becomes the basis for why he is called the ‘complete mastermind’ Purbo Asmoro is known as a versatile artist
December 17, 1961 ago, Purbo Asmoro was born into a biological genealogy of descendants of a well-known artist family in Pacitan, East Java. His father, Sumarso, was one of the best-selling puppeteers at that time. The blood of a puppeteer felt so thick flowing in Purbo Asmoro’s body because of his grandfather Suradi and his great-grandfather , Kromo, all of them are involved in the world of puppetry. It’s no wonder that Purbo, when he was very young, already memorized the names of wayang characters and some of the stories in wayang performances.
Purbo Asmoro’s artistic instincts, which were in an artistic environment, were very supportive in honing his skills on the wayang kulit purwa puppet show. At the age of 17, Purbo Asmoro had the courage to perform in front of large audiences when he took part in the Central Java Dalang Contest in 1992. He defeated his competitors. His talent was honed even more when he decided to move to the north of Pacitan, namely the city of Surakarta. He also chose school at the Conservatory, now the Indonesian Karawitan Middle School or SMKI majoring in puppetry. After graduating in 1982, Purbo Asmoro then continued his studies at the Indonesian Academy of Karawitan Arts or ASKI and majored in puppetry as well. In 1986, young Purbo graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Armed with the knowledge he mastered, he became a lecturer at the Indonesian Art College (STSI), which was formerly ASKI. While also serving as a lecturer, Purbo Asmoro decided to continue his postgraduate studies. When he continued his graduate school, he chose to study Performing Arts Studies at Gadjah Mada University. He won his Masters degree in 2003.
Purbo Asmoro is not only good at playing wayang, but he also studies puppetry. Purbo Asmoro became a real dalang, continuing the legacy of his father, grandfather and great-grandfather. Because of his skill in playing wayang, Purbo Asmoro began to be admired by the wider community. Even though his name is starting to soar, this humble puppeteer who is known to be humble still likes to watch wayang pakeliran from other puppeteers. According to him, all puppeteers have their own characteristics and advantages, from watching there are many sources of inspiration that can be used to process and make the drama plots of the wayang plays that they play come alive. Apart from watching the performances of other puppeteers, Purbo Asmoro always interprets life and life which is then applied in presenting plays in his wayang performances. Presenting wayang is the same as bringing human values to be conveyed back to the wider community. It was this strategy that made Purbo Asmoro successful in stealing the hearts of the people and his puppet show being loved by many spectators.
His journey in the world of puppetry did not stop in Indonesia, Purbo Asmoro then brought puppets to various parts of the world. It is recorded that he has performed wayang in America, England, Greece, Japan, Austria, Singapore, Bolivia, Thailand and other countries. Purbo Asmoro succeeded in bringing this noble art orientated towards the future according to its era. Some observers of the bailout, such as Sumanto, said that Purbo Asmoro was the mastermind of the future. The values that are reflected in their pakelir performances are always oriented towards contemporary cultural views, even though their forms are still traditional. Until now, Purbo Asmoro is still one of the important figures in the development of the world of wayang. He is also an administrator for Ganasini, the Indonesian Puppet Arts Institute. In addition, he is also an active administrator at the Sesaji Dalang Foundation. Now Purbo Asmoro lives in Gebang Village, Kadiripo Village, Banjarsari District, Surakarta. His house is wide open to anyone who wants to study and discuss with him. Purbo Asmoro is known by the people around him as a sumeh, easy to get along with, likes any kind of art.