Backstage buzzed with energy as performers and crew raced back and forth through the cramped dressing room, lit only by glowing, naked light bulbs dangling from wires as drums pounded and cymbals crashed on the small stage just beyond the thin, transparent sheet that separated fantasy from reality.

Chinese opera is deeply ingrained in the Chinese culture, with roots back as far as the Third Century. The large waves of Chinese immigrants who settled in Singapore over the past 150 years have transported this traditional form of musical dramatic theatre with them, performing it on makeshift bamboo and wooden stages in car parks and open fields across Singapore’s heartlands, most notably during Chinese New Year and Hungry Ghost festival celebrations.

Spend an evening backstage with the Xin Xin Rong He Teowchew street opera troupe in Singapore.