I have just returned from a short trip to Penang, Malaysia and while I was there a came across a real little gem, the Teochew Puppet and Opera House Museum. Based in an old shophouse in the George Town UNESCO World Heritage site, it tells the story of a Chinese puppet and opera form I had never come across before. To call it a museum is a bit misleading, as they also stage puppet performances and operas on the premises, as well as leading workshops in both forms they promote.
To give it some context, Teochew is a dialect that is native to the Chaoshan region of eastern Guangdong, whose people spread across the region in the 19th Century (and later, the world), taking their culture with them.
In an article for New Straits Times, Pauline Fan gives a short history of the Museum which is now run by the a 5th generation opera performer and puppeteer, Ling Goh. In another, for the Malay Mail, Vivian Cheong gives a more detailed sketch of family, which is quite fascinating.
Although the Opera House doesn’t have it’s own website, it does have a very well kept Facebook page, here, which has much more information.
If you find yourself in Penang, I thoroughly recommend a visit and if there is no one else there when you drop by, you will get your own personal tour, as I did, as well as some hands on experience with the puppets themselves.