[About this blog] Inspired by local soccer player Mike Lim during my rookie reporter days at Singapore Polytechnic, I set up this blog in August 2002. I feel that blogging is a novel platform to document interesting facets of my life and my thoughts on certain issues. [Email blogger] ephraim@singnet.com.sg

Saturday, July 12, 2008

[Teochew Opera]
The Chaozhou City Teochew Opera Troupe is performing at the Kreta Ayer People's Theatre. The opening night was a selection of excerpts from famous operas. The final presentation saw the artistes in lavish regalia.

2. After Singapore, the troupe will go to Batam where it will perform a few nights. There is a sizeable Teochew community in the Riau islands. It is good that cultural groups are travel freely from one country to another. It was not such a long time ago that Chinese language material was banned in Indonesia. The Batam Mayor wanted to attend the opening night's performance in Singapore but had to pull out at the last moment. However, he did send a senior representative.

3. For the souvenir magazine, I provided the message below:


Teochew Opera is part of Singapore's cultural heritage. However, with the decline in the use of dialects, there is a danger that Teochew Opera will wither away as an art form. That would be a great pity indeed.

To preserve Teochew Opera in Singapore, we need to modernize the way we manage the opera companies, the way we recruit and train artistes, and the way we reach out to younger audiences. Over the years, such efforts have been made with varying success. I remember many years ago being brought by Kuo Pao Kun to see a Teochew Opera staged in a traditional way but with the sides of the wayang backstage rolled up so that audiences could see artistes preparing for their roles. It is also important for subtitles to be provided in Chinese and English to facilitate understanding.

Without a strong culture, a people cannot be strong. The voices of ancestors expressed in literature and the arts are part of the collective memory. Teochew culture is one of the many streams flowing into the modern culture of Singapore, making us what we are. Let us therefore make a special effort to keep alive Teochew Opera.

Even before the days of Raffles, Teochews settled in Johore and the Riaus fishing, farming pepper and gambier, and doing business. The Teochews in Singapore and Batam are linked not only by cultural and economic links but also by blood. I hope the performance of this Teochew Opera in Batam will help bring the peoples of Indonesia and Singapore closer together.

I congratulate the organisers and Kreta Ayer People's Theatre for this important contribution to our cultural life."

Do also read my posts on Beyond SG


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