Chinese opera is loved by some and considered a deafening noise by others. Regardless of where you stand in that debate, it is a fascinating subject to photograph and the annual series of street performances that take place in Taipei are one of the highlights of my photography year. A humble tent erected at the side of a road, plastic stools arranged in front of a temporary stage and a makeshift dressing room backstage is all that’s needed. Fans reserve their seats hours in advance by placing an umbrella or newspaper on their stool of choice, and workmen rush to finish putting up some kind of shelter to protect the audience from the rain. The event takes place come rain or shine, sponsored in part by the city government to ensure that it’s open to everyone who walks by. Some sit rapt and watch every minute while others stop for a glance as the pass by.
I spent a bit of time backstage before a performance by the I-Hsin Opera Troupe. Here are some of the goings-on.