Announcing the Roger A. Long Papers

This post was written by University Archives & Manuscripts student assistant Sharnelle Renti Cruz.

Headshot of Roger Long

One of the many portrait photos Roger Long used for his actor’s portfolio.

The Roger A. Long Papers contain the research and academic work of Roger Long, the former Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities and Emeritus professor of Asian Theatre at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.  His lifelong passion of Indonesian Wayang Kulit (Javanese Shadow puppetry) is truly preserved and represented in this collection of biographical materials, which include his correspondence, a sampling of materials relating to theatrical productions, audio recordings, scrapbooks about Malaysian theatre, photographs of Southeast Asian theatrical performances, an actor’s portfolio of professional photographs, and both published and unpublished writings.

Born in 1938, Roger Alan Long was raised in Illinois and graduated from Decatur High School, later pursuing a BA in theatre in 1961 from Southern Illinois University.  His acting career started with productions at his educational institutions and in his community: playing in both professional and amateur professional summer stock in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Canada, Long later undertook film and television work.   Long launched his academic career at Michigan State University by teaching an acting course while a graduate student in speech. Studying with Professors Farley Richmond and James Brandon, he developed an interest in Asian theatre. He completed his MA and graduated in June 1967 with a thesis comparing the social roles of female characters in Communist Chinese plays with the roles of women in traditional Chinese society.

Roger Long with an Indonesian puppet.

Long performing Irawan’s Wedding, a Wayang Kulit play, in Hawai’i in 1971.

With Brandon’s encouragement Long enrolled in a doctoral program at the University of Hawai‘i. Supported by a John D. Rockefeller III grant, he went to Indonesia in mid–1967 for two years to carry out fieldwork for his dissertation studying Wayang, a highly sophisticated form of traditional theatre and cultural expression. He specialized in Wayang Kulit, one of the many different forms of Wayang theatre performed with articulated leather shadow puppets.  While conducting fieldwork on Wayang Kulit Purwa in Yogyakarta, Central Java Long was affiliated with the Habirandha Sekolah Pedhalangan (Haibrandha School for Dalang), of which he was a lifelong supporter.

Several people performing shadow puppetry outdoors, holding puppets up against a scrim.

Bali Gugur performance in Hawai‘i, 1981.

As an actor, director, scholar, and professor of theatre, Roger Long was able to bring his Wayang background and expertise to the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa as a Professor of Asian Theatre, Contemporary Asian Dramatic Literature, and Asian acting for the Western actor.  As put by Kathy Foley, editor of Asian Theatre Journal and a fellow Professor of Theatre Arts at the University of California-Santa Cruz, “Roger Long—promoted understanding of Southeast Asian theatre, especially the Wayang kulit purwa shadow theatre of Central Java.”

Indonesian puppet.

Indragit puppet from a Wayang Kuilit.

Long was on the Mānoa faculty from 1976 until his retirement in 2004 and had served for ten years as the Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities; he was also the past chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance and of the Southeast Asian Studies program.  Throughout his career at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, he directed and produced many performances at Kennedy Theatre and Mānoa Valley Theatre; some of these productions can be found through his production materials on Bali Gugur, Path to Freedom/ Panata sa Kalayan, and Kathakali, etc.

The bulk of Long’s collection pertains to his Wayang projects, audio recordings, documents, and photographic research accumulated through his research over the years.  During his field research in Java and Bali (which occurred between 1967 and 1969), Long made 42 original audio recordings of Wayang Kulit performances.

Typescript with handwritten annotations.

Field notes transcribed to Microsoft word format for the Wayang: Gathutkaca Wisudha, 2006.

These audio recordings were then translated and transcribed, some of these recordings are also accompanied by transcriptions, translations, music transcriptions, synopses, and field notes.  These can be viewed in the Document series of this collection.  In addition, there are texts or summaries of many lakon, (stories, plots, drama scenarios,) and ruwatan, plus notes from interviews with puppet masters, records of his travel to Java, information about the three sets of Wayang puppets he collected, and notes, transcriptions, and photographs of Wayang, and other theatrical performances.

The collection also includes some of Long’s more personal documents, such as his correspondence with colleagues, friends, and family; and photographs of his childhood, travels, and productions, as well as his training journals, and student papers. The biographical data and materials in this collection correlate to his theatrical productions, experience, and lifelong work to preserve the art form of Wayang.  His interests are evident in his published and unpublished writings whose performance genres include those of India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam.  Long’s collection also includes complete Javanese transcriptions and translations into English of a selection of the best of his Wayang performance recordings.

The Roger A. Long collection is available for public research and is split into three series:  Documents, Photographs, and Audio recordings, and spans from the early 1950s until his death in 2007.  The collection is truly a great introduction to the exquisite art form of Wayang Southeast Asia, and it allows one uninitiated with the specific languages and traditions used in the Wayang a means of understanding and learning more about the concepts and culture captured in the style:  its use as entertainment, its teachings, and its ritual observances, realities, and humor.

You can find more information about this collection through the UH-Mānoa Catalog for Archival Materials website: https://archivesspace.library.manoa.hawaii.edu/repositories/4/resources/256

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