Traditional Performing Contexts of Cantonese Opera
Traditional contexts of Cantonese opera performances are closely related to the local godliness and custom, represented by celebrating the birthdays of gods and different festivals in China. The ritual performances of Cantonese opera is called sangunghei, which commonly appears during the celebration of gods’ birthdays, completion of temple renovations, and thanksgiving to gods. One of the main elements of these rituals and ceremonies is the performance of Cantonese opera. In the festivals of traditional Chinese agricultural society, such as Chinese New Year, Lantern Festival, Yulan Festival, and Mid-Autumn Festival, the performance of Cantonese opera represents a meaningfulness of local custom.
Bamboo stage has a long history in Cantonese opera. It is made by bamboos, wood, hay, and mud. These materials can be recycled, are economic and environmentally protective. The bamboo stage is called “matshed theatre”; this is a temporal construction for specific performances. After the performances the matshed theatre is going to be removed. The selection of the location relies on the environmental factors as well as the needs of the activity. For example, the location for a ritual performance needs to be close to the temple in order for the spirit of the gods to view.