Wayang kulit (shadow puppet theatre; henceforth “wayang”) as practiced in Java (Indonesia) has been recognized by exegetes – European and Indonesian alike – for its centrality as both a performative vehicle for and a symbolic figuration of understandings of the human developmental cycle, the variety of character models available to individuals, the precarious balance of chaos and stability in society, and kinship dialectics of conflict and complementariness. It is Java's most complex art form, in terms of dramaturgy, music, and repertoire, and also one of its most highly mediated. The beginning of what I would like to discuss is located at the end of Ward Keeler's exemplary ethnography of Central Javanese wayang and the dialogical play of selves and others in relations of hierarchy. Keeler concludes his evocative account of Javanese selves and theatre (and here I paraphrase) with the statement that “the peculiar fascination” of the dhalang in Javanese culture stems from his ability to dissimulate his self in performance. The puppeteer's voice is splintered, his presence veiled by a screen and mediated by puppets and the constraints of tradition, and his authority derived from indirect relations to a ritual sponsor, the Javanese autarchy, the ancestors, and the unseen world. “He is at once a dissembled authority, one whose power is great, non-coercive, and unworldly, and a dissembled interpreter, one who mediates between an unreal but persuasive and distracting world, and our own”.