This article examines how Dama Orchestra has recontextualized <i>shidaiqu (æ¶ä»£ æ²)</i> in a theatrical setting. Dama Orchestra was originally a Chinese orchestral group in Malaysia that, due to economic crisis, changed its focus from classical music to staging the more popularly demanded <i>shidaiqu. Shidaiqu</i> is a southern Chinese song genre popular from 1920 to 1950 and typically performed in Malaysia during Phor Tor (Hungry Ghost Festival). It has remained popular with mature Chinese Malaysian audiences at <i>ko-tai</i>, pubs, and karaoke bars. By adapting it to a theatrical form in the late 1990s, Dama Orchestra transformed the popular and commercial nature of these songs into an elite musical theatre genre. Performed as a Westernized hybrid theatre, <i>shidaiqu</i> attracted serious music aficionados in Malaysia and was raised from its stigmatized position as <i>genÃ¼ maichang</i> (sing-song girl entertainment). This article draws on participant observation work to report how Dama musicians re-Sinicized the orchestration of <i>shidaiqu</i> and combined it with theatrical elements to appeal to the diasporic Chinese community of Malaysia.
Asian Theatre Journal – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Sep 23, 2014