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September 21, 2010

An imposing glove puppet stage

Was trying to dig out more photos on puppets/marionette and I managed to find a picture of a glove puppet stage taken in mid-2009 at the Singapore History Museum.

Pardon for the poor quality of the picture: 

The quality here is probably better but details of the stage are still rather blur.

Description provided by the museum:  
Glove puppet theatre
Fujian, China
Painted Wood

Chinese puppetry was a popular form of street entertainment that shared stage conventions and story selections with Chinese opera. It was not unusual for retiring opera artists to continue their career behind the scenes as puppeteers (still the case today). 

This glove puppet stage belonged to Sin Sai Lok, a troupe that arrived from Fujian, China in the 1930s. As a portable theatre, the stage could be assembled or dismantled by the troupe within an hour. Installed with over 1,000 electric light bulbs, the stage was a sight to behold when it was lit up in a dark open space. 

The imposing structure has a traditional Chinese roof. The name of the troupe appears above the stage, which is flanked by pillars adorned with dragons. At the far ends are boards where the title of the performance would be written. 

Below the stage are six colourful panels depicting scenes from an episode in Journey to the West, a literary classic based on folk mythology. The contact details and the range of services provided by the troupe are advertised above the six panels. The illustration by Xuanhua studio, is also acknowledged on the...right. 

From the description above, we can tell that some of the traditional practices (e.g. name of troupe above the stage, title of performance written on a board etc.) are still continued today. 

P.S. Although the Chinese name written on the stage cannot be seen very clearly, I think it says 老新春乐班. 

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