The Hungry Ghost month is full of performances of Chinese opera all around Penang. Just about every night of the month there’s a Chinese opera somewhere in the city and most if not all of them are outside. Many of these performers are brought in by the government from places like Taiwan or Hong Kong. I photographed two operas. The first was at the Lim Jetty and the other on the mainland near Butterworth. They were both visually stunning but the performers at Butterworth were much more open to being photographed. They even allowed me backstage during the performance. It was quite fun to photograph this amazing event.
-Click the photos to see them in a lightbox.
Performers put on make up hours before the performance
Certain characters require precise make up and can take hours to prepare.
With his make up on, this performer rehearses his lines.
Costuming can be quite intricate and ornate. Performers help each other Into their costumes
In costume and and make up performers now wait for the ceremonial blessing before the show.
Worship is performed in costume prior to the performance.
Offerings are laid out and now actors perform their religious rituals before the show.
As a part of the religious ritual performers dance in costume and in character to spirits.
This actress awaits her cue to go onstage.
Like all theater costume changes must be done in a hurry and often in the dark.
This is the actual performance that the audience sees
Having performed this thousands of times actors often times play computer games or text message in the wings.
Every opera troop has an orchestra that travels with them.
The audience sits in the grass or on stools enjoying the outdoor performance.
With the performance done it’s time for a group picture