It was a festival of sorts at the A Ma Temple in Macau, the oldest Taoist temple in the island, built in 1488 and dedicated to the goddess Matsu, patron of fishermen and seafarers. The area was festive with Portuguese influenced dances as locals were dressed in traditional Portuguese wear at the open area outside the walls. But it was the huge structure of tarp and bamboo that caught my attention, several meters from the temple entrance and was delighted to know that it was a theater for Chinese opera.
I haven’t actually seen one and this was a great opportunity to photograph and watch, even portions of the play. So we went inside, and was fortunately given access backstage where the meat of the action really was. It was chaotic, with costumes and boxes and stuff scattered around. Makeup at one table, colorful dresses hanging above. Actors were busy preparing, putting on their costumes or makeup, some were chatting lively while another was reading her lines. There were moment of silences in one room, boisterous laughter at another. But when the curtain started to rise and the music drifted from the stage, whispers and tempered calls, hurried paces and hush enveloped the backstage. The actors were ready. We transferred to the audience area and for a brief moment, enjoyed the unfolding color, ancient songs and gestures on stage.