The Prambanan Open Air Theatre is located some 5 minutes away from Candi Prambanan itself. It is located some 20km to the east of downtown Yogyakarta or 40km west of Surakarta (Solo).
There is a special tour arranged by Yogyakarta-based travel agents that combine an afternoon visit to Candi Prambanan and then catch an evening performance at Ramayana Ballet Theatre.
I got the chance to attend the 3rd installment of the 4-episode Ramayana Epic which are only shown during full-moon nights during the dry seasons. The 3rd episode is titled Kumbakarna Leno which means The Death of Kumbokarno.
Ideally, you would have to attend all the four episodes on four separate nights to thoroughly enjoy the ballet, but with the daily evening commute from downtown Yogyakarta to Prambanan Ballet Theatre (Rp60.000 per person) and entry ticket per night(Rp75.000), it can be considerably taxing to both your time and money.
Here is the excerpt of Episode 3: Kumbakarna Leno
THE DEATH OF KUMBOKARNO: THE INVASION OF ALENGKA AND THE FALL OF A PATRIOTIC HERO
Rama, Leksmana , Sugriwa and his army wait anxiously for the return of Hanuman from Alengka. Soon, he arrives bringing a happy news for everybody and then delivers Shinta's hairpin to Rama. On seeing this, Rama is overwhelmed with sadness but he thanks Hanuman nevertheless. Next, Rama sends Hanggada to Alengka to tell Rahwana to surrender. Rama shoots a magic arrow into the ocean separating the two countries, causing the water to dry out instantly. The ocean fishes are panic-striken but eventually cooperated. Rama's troop finally can cross over the dry land to Alengka.
In Alengka, Rahwana himself is assembling his ministers and warriors to discuss about the upcoming war, when Hanggada arrives. Hanggada delivers Rama's message. It infuriates Rahwana that he orders Hanggada to be killed. Kumbakarna tries to stop him and that angers Rahwana even more. Kumbakarna reminds Rahwana that Hanggada is just an envoy of Rama. Rahwana turns his anger toward Kumbakarna instead, ordering him to leave Alengka.
As Kumbakarna leaves, Rahwana instructs Indrajid, Prahasta, Sarpakenaka and all the giant's army to go to battle to defeat Rama. The battle is cruel and terrible. Prahasta, the prime minister of Rahwana, is killed by Hanila. He uses a stone to smash Prahasta. Then he redeems the infidel woman to become the goddess Hendradi. Meanwhile, Indrajid dies on Leksmana's arrow. Sarpakenaka, Rahwana's sister, dies from Hanuman's strike. Above all, the most tragic scene is the patriotic hero of Kumbakarna dies.
Generally, the ballet acts are rather hard to follow unless you read the synopsis beforehand. Bear in mind that there will be no dialogue throughout the performance so you have to rely on the acting movements and the electronic screen to get a gist of what going on.
If you are interested to read about the rest of the episodes, you can find the synopsis below:
Episode 1: The Abduction of Shinta
Episode 2: Hanuman Duta (Setting on Fire) - The Adventure of the Ape Envoy
Episode 4: The Holy Fire - Downfall and Purification
Great theatre. Highly recommended.