Devotional performances of Cantonese opera – Part I : In front of and behind the curtain
神功戲粤劇表演, 顧名思義, 是百姓為了酬謝神恩而舉行的戲劇演出。 “在香港而言，神功戲泛指一切因神誕、廟宇開光、鬼節打醮、太平清醮及傳統節日而上演的所有戲曲 (Wikipedia)” 。由於以神誕為多, 神功戲通常會在廟宇旁空地以竹搭的臨時戲棚內舉行。這次西貢白沙灣的神功戲是慶祝觀音誕的。
Devotional performances of Cantonese opera are usually referred to those Cantonese operas performed in a temporary bamboo framed theater in rural areas where modern theater is not available. Devotional means these performances are devoted to the celebration of important events such as the birthday of deities, therefore they are usually held near the temple where the deity is enshrined. In this case, the performance was dedicated to Guan Yin, Goddess of Mercy or Bodhisattva for her birthday.
戲棚的結構着實令人讚嘆。 以木柱, 竹條, 木板和鉄皮(片) 就能蓋出一有舞台, 後台及能容納800人的戲棚, 易建易拆, 建材可循環使用, 既實際又環保, 老祖宗的智慧真的是不簡單。這次回港, 得小友檳兒相助, 能到西貢白沙湾觀賞神功戲。由於事前安排妥當, 我們安坐大堂前第一排, 並獲許拍照。只可惜自己行前太忙, 沒有做功課, 所以拍起來有點手足無措。再加上當時已是強弩之未, 全無機動性, 安坐掎中, 沒有從不同角度取景。回來後始識扼腕興嘆。不過,這次終於得償素願, 拍了一輯粵劇。 這次雖然並無佳作, 但得一群年輕好友作伴, 过了一個愉快的晚上, 實平生樂事!
I was lucky enough to have my friends in Hong Kong to make some arrangement so I could have a front row seat, right in front of the apron to enjoy, and take pictures of the performance. I had tried to cover as much as possible, however, this was my very first and I had no idea where I should have positioned my camera and what speed and aperture to use, etc. It was a shame that the situation was a bit intense for me to handle because I had decided to put my newly acquired camera to a test, I was more preoccupied with the technical issues of the camera rather than enjoying the show wholeheartedly. Anyway, zillion thanks to my young friends who had kept me company the entire evening, it was tons of fun !!
臺前 In front of the curtain:
幕後 Behind the curtain :
這是一個很難得的機会。班主雖然答應讓我入後台看看, 但曾告知要有被工作人員”踢”出來的心理準備。那晚上七時半開鑼, 六時半前还未有很多人工作, 我就怱怱進去轉了一圈。後台比想像的大。台前一大佈景把台前和幕後分隔。這竹牆後就擺放着一列大型衣箱, 上面放冠帽架。中間就是貫通後台的通道。左方两進, 前面是用花布, 衣箱間隔成化粧間, 供大老倌使用。中有一”窄巷”通至第二進, 相信是其他演員的化粧處。由於”窄巷”內交通繁忙, 加上我全身披掛, 試了幾次都过不了。後來便被踢了出來。下面是幾張後台的隨拍。
The following picture shows the crossover of the backstage. A piece of scenery on the right separates the acting area (arena) and the backstage. The area on the left were divided, by curtains and chests, into partitions to serve as dressing rooms for major actors and actresses. Behind these partition was believed to be a common area for secondary performers (while trying to walk in through a heavy traffic narrow “alley” to have a peek, I was “kicked” out of the that cramp space). The constructive bamboo poles doubled up as wardrobe for hanging costumes. Note the portable shrine on the right. Emperor Wah Guon (華光大帝) is believed to be the super being who oversees everything concerning traditional performing art.
化粧 – 跟西方劇院不同, 一般粤劇劇團沒有專任化粧師, 演員的化粧都是自己動手的, 就是大老倌亦如是。據悉, 以前的化粧特別濃, 乃因鄉間照明不佳, 不化濃粧, 台下看戲的連演員的眼耳口鼻都分不清。現代舞台照明不錯, 粧化得比較淡, 但化粧的方式(如描鳳眼等)則仍依古例。
Make-up – Unlike their western counterparts, actors and actresses of Cantonese opera have to apply make-up themselves. It is said that the style of make-up has been changing from heavily painted (similar to that of a geisha) to currently a lighter one.