Art and Culture Discovery in Penang –《Teochew Opera》
One steamy afternoon, my journey into the ancient Teochew Opera begins.
As soon as I sit before the dressing table, I cannot contain my excitement!
“Okay, open again…”
I open my eyes only to see that Ms. Ling Goh has hers fixed on mine. The strictness on her face some 15 minutes ago has disappeared revealing her almond-shaped eyes which are now filled with glee. “Now, we’re done with your eye makeup,” she says with a content smile. I break into girlish giggles, “Wow! I can’t wait to see how I will look like!” Then, I turn to the dressing table to steal a glance in the mirror. “Hmm,” Ms. Ling Goh responds with a simple short syllable. Her face turns serious again as she continues to apply makeup on my visage. I sit obediently while my heart dances with strong anticipation and my mind with wild imagination. But, I know I must be patient.
I sit obediently while my heart dances with strong anticipation and my mind with wild imagination.
As Ms. Ling Goh works meticulously at applying my makeup, I can’t help but to admire her gracious hand gestures and movements as they naturally reveal a rooted discipline in her as a Teochew Opera performer.
Ms. Ling Goh works meticulously at applying my makeup.
On the walls, shelves and cabinets one finds countless tools and trinkets, colourful costumes and adornments, and different types of Teochew puppets. The sweet melodious Teochew opera music playing in the background. The breeze blowing from the old fan. They create a moment so beautiful and nostalgic that I imagine stories and tales swirling and flowing in the air…so freely without a care. They slowly take me down memory lane.
On the walls one finds all types of Teochew puppets.
Before the television set seated A-ma (Grandmother) and my 7-or-8-year-old self. A-ma was a Teochew woman. She spoke words which I did not understand. Each attempt she spoke to me in her dialect, I could merely reply her in Mandarin, of which she found it hard to understand too, “Sorry, A-ma, I don’t understand you.” However, deeply engraved in my mind are the few times when I spent my school holidays sleeping over at A-ma’s home. I remember vividly that we sat before the television set. A-ma was watching Teochew Opera on tape. As she engrossed in the drama, her face turned serious. The living room was stuffy. The seemingly huffing-and-puffing overworked fan did not cool the room at all! The drama was boring because I could not understand a single word they spoke or rather, sang. I asked impatiently, “A-ma, why can’t they speak faster?” Upon hearing my question, A-ma choked with laughter and then carried on to explain to me in her foreign words. The fan continues to blow. The melodious Teochew Opera music fills the air. Only difference is our worlds are now more than 20 years apart.
Only difference is our worlds are now more than 20 years apart.
My eyes redden…but I quickly fight my tears back with a smile and a deep breath. As Ms. Ling Goh turns to pick up her other tools, I turn to the dressing table to steal a glance again. “Wow! It’s becoming more beautiful! I can’t wait to see the final result!”
“Wow! It’s becoming more beautiful! I can’t wait to see the final result!” I imagine A-ma looking at me with a huge smile on her face now. I begin to feel happy again. This time, Ms. Ling Goh smiles back and I must say how beautiful her smile is! I have now turned into one of the characters in the Teochew Opera which A-ma watched. Of course, I must also show some skillful acts too! “Ka-chick! Ka-chick!” The camera sounds start clicking away near me. Kinman who has been waiting for us all along is now healthymanviagra.com taking pictures of us. Kinman, my friend from Penang who has a passion for photography and cultural traditions, has also helped me in this arrangement of Teochew Opera makeover so that I could have a taste of this 500 year-old Teochew tradition. As our photoshoot begins, all corners of the room are filled with our laughter. Kinman has helped me in this arrangement so that I could have a taste of this 500 year-old Teochew tradition. A photo with Ms. Ling Goh as a beautiful keepsake. It is here in this steamy afternoon in the city of Penang that we feel our hearts are alight with a great passion to pass down this centuries-old tradition the best that we could by being a part of it. If you wish to experience this 500 year-old Teochew tradition by becoming an Opera character for a day, drop by or find out more details from
Our efforts and long wait finally paid off!