Bangsawan: A Social and Stylistic History of Popular Malay Opera

Bangsawan – the first popular urban commercial theatre in the Malay peninsula – emerged in the late nineteenth century as an adaptation of the Parsi theatre of India which toured Malaya. The first indigenous theatre in Malaya to be modelled along Western lines, bangsawan engendered the development of the first Malay orchestra and the first Malay popular music in the country. This book traces the stylistic changes in bangsawan from the late nineteenth century to the 1980s and links these changes to wider sociopolitical transformations in society.

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Bangsawan – the first popular urban commercial theatre in the Malay peninsula – emerged in the late nineteenth century as an adaptation of the Parsi theatre of India which toured Malaya. The first indigenous theatre in Malaya to be modelled along Western lines, bangsawan engendered the development of the first Malay orchestra and the first Malay popular music in the country. This book traces the stylistic changes in bangsawan from the late nineteenth century to the 1980s and links these changes to wider sociopolitical transformations in society.

‘an enlightening, well-documented, and powerful historical ethnography … it is the first and only work of its kind’. — Meilu Ho

Published by The Asian Centre
Paperback
1997
ISBN: 9839499017