Once upon a time, there was a little boy from a poor family in Nakhon Ratchasima, who went to see Chinese opera because he was curious to know what it was; he never thought it would be the beginning of a lifelong journey into one of the world's oldest dramatic art forms.
''I heard the strange sound of music from an open kiosk near a joss [house], where this troupe was performing Chinese opera. I had never seen anything like it before _ of course not, I was just an 11-year-old kid running around in the rice paddies,'' reminisced Som Nujklang, a 45-year-old Chinese opera actor of the Sing Tong Chia Sung Hiang troupe.
High up in the thatched roof , as he recalled, a cluster of electric lights cast its radiance upon the actors, who sang, danced and sometimes went through a series of slow contortions. The make-up was exaggerated. The costumes were bright and colourful. The tune was foreign and the libretto was wholly incomprehensible to the young villager, who assembled among the spectators to watchjoined the spectators, but he was mesmerised nonetheless. His heart pounded every time the gong was struck.
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