Research Center for Chinese Cultural Metaverse in Taiwan - 華人文化元宇宙研究中心

The Legacy of Performance of Taiwanese Gezixi in Singapore in the 1960s

    The curatorial basis of the exhibition is the research data published by Professor Tsai Hsin-Hsian from the Department of Chinese Literature, National Chengchi University, entitled “The Legacy of Performance of Taiwanese Gezixi in Singapore in the 1960s”. Through the research of past leading scholars, advertisements and reports in the newspapers of Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia, the National Development Council’s Archives Administration, the Academia Historica Collections Online System, the National Archives of Singapore, and other sources, we have collected performance-related photographs, recordings, and special issues, as well as oral testimony by the artists themselves. We have comprehensively reconstructed the legacy of the performances by the Taiwanese Hokkien opera troupes Xin Tai Guang, Bo Hua, Mu Dan Gui, Ri Yue Yuan, and San Hong Zhu in Singapore and Malaysia in the 1960s.

·       Ever since the Ming and Qing dynasties, people from Fujian and Guangdong, faced with factors such as natural and man-made disasters, wars and calamities, economic hardship, and labor demand overseas, left China for South East Asia to make a living or resettle there, turning it into a major base of overseas Chinese settlements. The local Fujianese audience greatly approved of the familiar topolect and cultural identity of Taiwan’s Gezixi opera, which, coupled with its approachable, popular, lively, and adaptive theatrical qualities, was like a breath of fresh air for them. In the 1930s, Taiwanese Gezixi troupes were one after the other invited to perform in Indonesia and Malaysia, also and this prompted local opera troupes to restructure or set up Gezixi classes.

·       This part of the history of the “Southward Expansion” has so far received little attention and has not been well documented. Therefore, we hope to recount it through the medium of a metaverse exhibition and to restore the historical threads of Gezixi opera in that era, so that the public may understand this part of our history and thus revive the collective memories within contemporary people.

The Taiwanese opera troupes invited to perform in New Malaysia in the 1960s,

some of which performed in amusement parks, some of which recorded commercial albums, some of which were broadcast on radio and television, forming a :media loop” of communication,

were not only a precious page in the history of overseas performances of Taiwanese Gezixi, but also part the “collective memory” of the Fujianese communities in Taiwan and Singapore.

“The weather is clear and I want to fish. In a moment, I am at the bank of the stream, so I hurry to get ready and set the hook to drop the bait.”

“What kind of fish is this one today? It will look golden that’s all. Look really closely, this fish seems like it is crying.”

Excerpts from Strange Encounters at Rivers and Oceans, a combined performance by the Bo Hua and Mu Dan Gui Hokkien opera troupes.