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Saturday, July 13, 2013
Onto The Culture, Opera & Movie Industries
Mr. Ong is very kind in sharing some of his views and
experiences on the entertainment industries. So, I repost this very interesting
post on Mr. Ong’s behalf:
Let us continue our talks on opera and our cultures again.
Apart from aboriginal tribe, majority residents of Hainan
Island were actually earliest immigrants from Hokkien province and a few others
folks including that of Teochew, Canton, Hakka and even from far-off Indonesia
(prisoners) and Vietnam. Hainan Island was ruled by Cantonese state government
before independence as Hainan Province, thus Cantonese is still widely spoken
in the capital by name Haikou.
It is understandably that’s the main reason why Hainanese
has a crossed cultural practices of mainly Hokkien and Cantonese, and few
others as stated above. For example, ‘hantaran ‘of a marriage engagement
consists of “Pinang and sireh” ( under influence of Indonesian residents ).
Based on above historical background, a Hainanese
understands easily even “classic” Hokkien language as spoken in Hokkien Opera.
An old Hokkien and Hainanese could communicate very well, even speaking in
their own provincial speeches individually. Same convenience happens between a
Cantonese and a Hakka. When I was a teenager, I could communicate in Hokkien,
Hainanese, Cantonese, Shantong and a bit Teochew, under influence of my neighbourhood
that out of various provincial backgrounds.
As I said previously, Hokkien Opera is the oldest among
others in Chinese history. Hence, the speech used had been modified to simplest
from time to time, to be understood by audience effortlessly. Otherwise, none
is interested to watch a stage show that spoken in strange language. However,
the demand of Hokkien Opera is declined in Malaysia from years to years.
Back in 1980s, as a kid, I often watched Hokkien Opera
booked by a local Hokkien club, during celebration of Ma Choo’s birthday. A
character similar to smiling Buddha was performed by a masked actor, just
before actual opera began. It was performed only on first and last days of the
whole staging period. This smiling faced old man pulled down the folded scrolls
page by page, showing greeting words likely- peacefulness to the world,
prosperity etc. An old fold told me that the smiling faced mask should only be
uncovered by using a piece of red cloth held with hands, once the actor
returned to back stage. It was to avoid direct contact with hands. The reason
for this is still unknown to me up till now, as I never asked more from this
We do have such offering ritual in Hong Kong movies industry,
especially before making historical movies. The whole crew involved in shooting
the movies, would pray to deceased souls whose stories are played. An Ang Pau
is given to actors/ actresses whose roles are to be passed away in a story.
I was told by my Korean manager that, they had a offering to
spiritual guardians at the site that where a constructional project would
begin. This happened in our Gas Processing Plant.