Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A.C. The Traveller (Trip to Xiamen, Zhangzhou and Quanzhou) III

Quanzhou is an ancient city also known as "Silk Road of the sea". Situated to the northeast of Xiamen, it takes slightly over an hour to get from Xiamen to Quanzhou, and about 2 hours from Zhangzhou to Quanzhou. Quanzhou is relatively more unfamiliar to me as compared to the other 2 previous cities as I don't have much friends there, and neither am I very familiar with any of the troupes there. However, being a fan of Gaojia and Liyuan opera (both based in Quanzhou), I thought I should pay a visit to this city as well.
Quanzhou still retained quite a bit of it's old-world charm with it's antique architecture everywhere.

A rather famousKwan Ti temple in Quanzhou.

Beside the Kwan Ti temple is one of the oldest mosque in China, built in AD 1009.

Quanzhou is famous for bridges, and you can expect to find bridges like this in every corner of the city.

West Street in Quanzhou city is a very old district, as one can see from the condition of the shophouses along the sides of the street.

The front gate of Quanzhou Liyuan Opera Experimental Troupe, the troupe which I had longed to pay visit to...

... but it was empty inside. Perhaps I went at the wrong time?

Shophouses at Zhongshan Road in Quanzhou; as one can see, the buildings are really quite old.

Zhongshan Road in Quanzhou don't look quite different from it's Xiamen cousin, in my opinion!

Nanyin (one of the most ancient musical forms still existing in China now) performances like this take place in various parts of the city every night.

Nanyin is still popular among the older folks of Quanzhou.

This street here is full of shops selling dog meat, mutton and goose meat steamboat; it's hard to find an empty table in these shops on a cold winter night!

Having steamboat by the side of the road on one cold, windy winter night.

The patrons here seemed to be enjoying themselves even though they were not sheltered from the cold winds by any walls or ceiling.

A.C. The Traveller (Trip to Xiamen, Zhangzhou and Quanzhou) II

Zhangzhou lies to the west of Xiamen and takes about an hour of bus ride from Xiamen's bus terminal. Zhangzhou to me is a more exciting place because Zhangzhou is the breeding place for my favourite Hokkien opera (xiangju), although really good troupes are not quite easy to come by. From what I heard, Zhangzhou used to be quite well developed, but it seems like in recent years, development of this city has been rather stagnant. Still, I believe that Zhangzhou is still not that bad as compared to other cities within the province.
Side streets of Zhangzhou.

A shop selling a Zhangzhou delicacy, guo bian hu; it looks and taste like our local kueh chap, although I believe they're totally different from one another.

Trishaws are everywhere in Zhangzhou; some are even paddled by women riders.

Longhai's Zhupu Xiangju Opera Troupe performing in Zhangzhou. (video clip of the troupe in action will be posted onto my other blog)

A view from the backstage; look at the turnout despite the cold weather!

Another troupe, Huang Yamei Gezi Opera Troupe, performing in another location on the same night. The stage may look very dilapidated, but their performing standard is still not bad. (video clips of the troupe in action will be posted onto my other blog)

Zhangzhou City Opera Troupe actors rehearsing for their competition show to be held in Fuzhou.

Final full dress rehearsal on the same night in the theatre above the troupe HQ, before leaving for Fuzhou the following day. How convenient! (video clips of the troupe in action will be posted onto my other blog)

A brick structure in Zhangzhou central in the style of an ancient city tower; on the top of the wall reads "Wen Chang", and I thought Wenchang is in Hainan?

A.C. The Traveller (Trip to Xiamen, Zhangzhou and Quanzhou) I

I have been missing in action for quite a while on my blog, mainly because I have been away for quite a while and had just returned from Xiamen last Friday. Actually, Xiamen is just one of the destinations I've been to, with Zhangzhou and Quanzhou among the rest. These 3 areas formed the minnan district of Fujian province, which is what we people in southeast Asia call "Hokkien". You should have guessed why I chose these 3 areas to visit: because I'm a proud member of the Hokkien diaspora!
Xiamen city is a jumble of new and old buildings; however this scenario might not last for long, as like Singapore, Xiamen is constantly tearing and constructing new buildings.

The street scene from the window of my hotel, V-Inn. This place looked secluded, but is actually very near to the city centre, and is relatively cheap as well. Plus, it is very near to Xiamen Municipality Gezi Opera Troupe and Xiamen Jin Lian Sheng Gaojia Opera Troupe.

There's quite a number of Muslim Chinese in Xiamen and Quanzhou, despite being quite far away from the northern and western borders of the country.

Looks can be deceiving; this lady might be selling popiah by the side of a small alley, but her food taste much, much better than what I had experienced in some local restaurants!

One of the small side lanes in Xiamen central district. There're quite a number of good catch in these areas, so don't simply overlook them.

One wrong turn at the main junction and you'll find yourself looking into some narrow back alleys.

Vehicles behold! A portion of Zhongshan Road (old central district) is reserved for walking pedestrians only.

Old folks relaxing in Zhongshan Park on a Sunday morning.

Zhongshan district by night.

Street hawker selling Muah Chee; slightly different from the ones we have in Singapore but tasted equally good.

Dining with some friends from Xiamen Jin Lian Sheng Gaojia Opera Troupe; this was a bad period to visit Xiamen, for not only there wasn't any opera performances in Xiamen city, Jin Lian Sheng was scheduled to leave for Macau for a performance, but I was lucky that I could still catch them around on their last day in Xiamen and had dinner with them.

Night skyline of the cenral district of Xiamen

Friday, December 07, 2007

A Night in Urinetown

I just came back from "Urinetown", a musical comedy staged by the Level 2 & 3 actors from Lasalle’s BA (Hons) Musical Theatre programme. This is the first time I've ever attended a performance by Lasalle students (free lunch-hour concerts excluded), and I'm rather impressed. Not that they're very excellent, there are rooms for improvement, but I believe with that kind of standard, I think these guys can go far.

"Urinetown" is an award-winning musical by Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis which pokes fun at capitalism, socialism, bureaucracy, corporate mismanagement and petty-minded, smalltown politics. Set in a small town, it tells a story of a group of poor people revolting against the town's policy of charging people for usage of their public toilets in the midst of a draught. This show is highly energetic, with lots of dance choreography from beginning to end. Being performed in an intimate setting in the form of a thrust stage, there was quite a number of interactive opportunities between the actors and the audience, but sadly the audience generally seemed rather passive and didn't react much, except for maybe laughing out loud. The songs are catchy too, and I feel that the singing standard of the cast is rather uniform can are able to harmonise well.
The performance area

The audience

Tomorrow's the last day for this show, and although I'd very much like to watch it again, but alas I have my Chinese opera rehearsal to attend to. Hopefully this show will get staged locally again, either by the same team (very unlikely) or by other groups, whatever. But or the time being, I'll just have to rummage through Youtube to find fragmented clips of this musical!

"Run Freedom Run" from "Urinetown" by Anmoch Productions in Maverick Theater in Fullerton, CA.

"Follow Your Heart" from "Urinetown" by Anmoch Productions in Maverick Theater in Fullerton, CA.

"Tell Her I Love Her" from "Urinetown" by another uncredited team

"I See A River" from "Urinetown" by Anmoch Productions in Maverick Theater in Fullerton, CA.