Many buildings are closed so another grassroots area is going to disappear
under redevelopment business.
Rent offer is not renewed so people have to move somewhere else
and the neighbourhood is going to disappear.
A big red advertisement announces the deity event. It displays the committee
list and the names of the people part of this committee.
This event is unique in Bangkok as it features two Chinese opera troupes
on the opposite side of a small lane.
One of the troupe is famous modern Chinese opera troupe Sai Yong Hong (คณะไซ้ย่งฮง).
The other one is called Sai Po Hong (คณะไซ้ป้อฮง).
Sometimes Chinese opera companies are hired not to perform
in front of live audiences but also in front of invisible deities in Chinese shrines.
The opera performance starts 7PM30 and ends up before midnight. The artists'
make up session starts around 6PM.
The make up area for Chinese opera artists is just behind the opera theater.
It is a nice opportunity for photographers.
Two Chinese Opera troupes are competing (งิ้วประชัน)
during nine days. According to Charlie Liu, Thai expert in Chinese opera, this event
is the biggest opera event in Thailand.
There are still around 30 Chinese opera troupes in Thailand.
Indeed, both troupes are more cooperating than competiting.
Same salary is paid to both.
Compared to Hong Kong Chinese opera, the theaters built in Thailand
use much more powerful neon lights.
The cost to hire such Chinese opera troupe is around 30 000 baht a night.
Each troupe has around 30 to 40 troupe members.
This Deity festival was a nine days festival. The pictures shown here were related
to the second day only. On other days former retired singers as special guests were expected.
This deity festival is a big event as it also features outdoor movies projected
on a huge screen.
A 35mm movie projector is showing today a foreign film.
Films reels are inside the yellow boxes.
The movie projection is of course free as it is paid by the
Shrine sponsor (ศาลเจ้า), who is also paying for the Chinese opera.
Mainly teens are watching the movie.
One of the performer, on the left, is transforming himself into a fish with scales through
a long make up process.
7PM already! The Chinese opera is going to start. A gong is part
of the music orchestra.
The performance is hosted in a Chinese shrine compound. Free food is given,
i.e. rice soup, sweets (green bean soup) and drinks.
Along the small lane, many delicious restaurants can be found.
The best one is maybe the one selling maw fish dish
Chinese opera performers can enjoy delicious home made food from their troupe cook.
As less and less members of the Thai Chinese community take the Chinese opera performer
profession, other performers have to be found. Many of them are coming from Northeast of Thailand (Isan)
or even from Mainland China.
Two main performers of the Chinese opera troupe Sai Yong Hong are sisters.
Chinese opera has been losing popularity gradually.
In the past, many old Chinese opera (งิ้ว) theaters were opened
in Yaowarat. Many were converted into cinemas such as the China Town Rama theater (former Sri Meuang).
Nowadays Chinese opera audience is mainly made of elderly people.
These Chinese opera female stars (何丽珠 and Xiao Bead) are coming from Mainland China.
On that day they were playing the daughter of the King and her maid.
Nevertheless Chinese opera art has continued to evolve
in Thailand to catch up with modern times. Nowadays Chinese opera performances are
sometimes featured for important life events for the Chinese community such as
wedding, shop openings... Performances are also done in the numerous Chinese shrines
all over Thailand for live audiences but also in front of invisible deities in Chinese shrines!
The Dragon's daughter loves a human so she hides her real identify but the fish
man reveals the truth to her father.
Usage of Thai language in some Chinese opera performance is starting
in order to make it accessible to a wider audience. Some Thai Chinese opera troupes
also use of online websites or
Facebook pages to increase people awareness and interest into their art.
Sai Yong Hong troupe is seen as too modern by Chinese opera traditionalists.
Chinese opera troupe Sai Yong Hong has a
Some people complain they alter too much traditional outfits.
Anyway such modern troupe with good looking actresses allows keeping interest from young people.
If Chinese opera shall not die and not be watched only by old people, some modernity
is needed to keep it alive in Thailand.
Performers greet the public during the last sequence of the opera
Chinese opera troupe Sai Yong Hong is much more popular than the other troupe
called Sai Po Hong. Maybe it is because of younger and more beautiful performers
such as Fern Joy and Joy Syh used by troupe Sai Yong Hong?
When the story is happening under the water and involving the fish man, the
light is then dimmed.