Once Upon a Time in Kemasik, Terengganu

Terengganu, which is situated in north-eastern Peninsular Malaysia did not receive many Indian or Chinese migrants, and in this state then, in the 2006 census, the Chinese reportedly, made up 2.6% of the 1,080,286 or so population. In the 80s, when I was working in the little town of Paka, some 30 km or so from Dungun, I rented a room form a Hainanese lady who ran a hairdressing saloon. There was a small population of Chinese in the fishing village, the majority being Hainanese and they opened shops and restaurants there. One night, my landlady and her family invited me to join them for a trip to another small town, Kemasik where a free Chinese Opera was being staged. When we reached there, the opera had already started and a big crowd of old and young people were already having a gala time. When the show ended, some youngsters went up the stage and garlanded the actors with money. That was the one and only time that I saw a live traditional Hainanese Opera and the one and only time that I saw young people going ga-ga over a traditional Chinese Opera.. There was a small population of Chinese of Hainanese origin in Kemasik and I suppose back then, there was not much choices in terms of entertainment.

A Hainanese Opera, The Wilful Princess


Liudmila said…
Interesting: the european opera is to demonstrate the voices first of all. These actors have not voices. What is the main aim of these opera? Learning story or remembering history?

And than. I heard there were not women between the actors. Is it so today too?
footiam said…
The actors do have a voice. There is singing too in Chinese Opera. More posts on Chinese Opera coming!

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