Chinese Wayang (Opera) in Singapore

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Part of a Chinese wayang costume. Image courtesy of Laura Yung.

Chinese Wayang (Opera) in Singapore

with Jeffrey Say & Laura Yung

Chinese Opera is fondly known as ‘Wayang’ in Singapore. Tucked away in a charming lane in Geylang is a quaint little shop where you can find Jeffery Eng, the third-generation proprietor of Eng Tiang Huat Chinese Cultural Shop that is one of a kind in Singapore. Jeffrey’s grandfather started the business next to an opera theatre in 1936. Join Jeffrey and textile and Chinese opera enthusiast, Laura Yung, for a peek into Singapore’s cultural past. The speakers will introduce a brief history of Chinese Opera, its structure and development in Singapore with a focus on the amazing costumes and the language of embroidery.

Jeffrey Eng has been involved in his family’s business since the tender age of 10 by ferrying orders to opera troupes. This gave him intimate knowledge of the colourful and dazzling world of Chinese wayang. To this day, Jeffrey still sews on his trusty Singer sewing machine handed down by his grandfather. A reluctant successor to the family business, Jeffrey soon realised that he is a cultural custodian and memory keeper. He is hands-on and passionate about conserving and promoting Chinese opera costumes accessories, musical instruments, Chinese textiles and embroideries. Jeffrey is regularly referenced by cultural institutions in Singapore including various museums, schools, clan associations and the National Heritage Board of Singapore.

A third-generation Singaporean, Laura Yung is a fluent speaker of Japanese, Mandarin and Cantonese. After a 15- year career working for multi-nationals across the Asia-Pacific region, the US and Africa, she has returned to Singapore and is enjoying rediscovering the local culture and history. Laura’s interest in Cantonese opera started as a child, watching performances with her grandmother. The costumes, the music, the make-up and the whole atmosphere fascinated her. At home, her grandmother often played librettos of her favourite opera all day long. Laura credits her command of the Cantonese language to listening to and reading opera lyrics.


HOW TO BOOK: In order to join this Zoom event it is essential to book before May 7th via email to Chris Manning (


11 May, 2021
6:30 pm - 7:30 pm AEST
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