Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Two evenings with a Chinese street opera troupe

I finally got my chance to spend some time with a Chinese Street Opera troupe at a Taoist temple near my home. I approached the troupe and sort their permission to photograph them as they busied themselves for their evening performance. I climb onto the crammed makeshift back stage to watch the performers put on their make-up. Chinese street opera troupes have dwindled and these days they are usually found at temple functions. Street operas are intimately linked to Chinese religious rites. These performances play a ceremonial role as offerings to deities during temple celebrations and even as a "show" for spirits released from the netherworld during the hungry ghost festival.
Though my Hokkien is limited, I had a great time with the troupe. I came away with a huge collection of photos of the troupe and their performance. On the second evening I drove to Bukit Batok. The troupe had de-camped and moved to a temple there. This evening I spent less time backstage and chose to spend time in front of the make shiift stage watching their performance. It took me a while to understand the performance but unfortunately I was unable to stay the full 3-hour performance.

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