November 7, 2014

Behind the scenes of a local Chinese Hokkien opera

In July this year, I was able to go behind the scenes of a local Hokkien opera that has been around for generations. The opportunity came when a friend of mine, Tung informed me about it. It was easier to get around the performing troupe when there were familiar faces. The opera was commissioned to perform for a festival held at Hougang's Dou Mu Gong, one of the oldest temple dedicated to Dou Mu and Jiu Wang Da Di. On that hot and humid afternoon, there wasn't any audience but they put on their best act nonetheless. With permission, I was able to enter the back stage (which was just behind the stage's curtain) to see how the performers got ready for their act. The entire preparation took like less than 30mins and in no time, the music began (a 3 man team) and they were already on the stage doing their part. All the performers were doing this on a volunteering basis, and most of them were in their 60s already, except for a school girl who is in her teens. 

Weapon props backstage
Head dresses
The band
Chilling on stage when there was no performance
The logistic got to work - preparing the costumes
The make up began

The hair is part of the act too
Every performer has their own personal make up station
Waiting for the cue