Date: 27 Jul – 28 Aug 2011
Programme line-up, dates, times and venues:
A getai (literally song stage), is a usually boisterous live stage performance held during the Ghost Festival commonly held in Singapore & Malaysia, in contrast to the generally solemn mood of the festival. However the performance is also routinely played at other Chinese festivals. The stage setup is usually composed of temporary structures and situated in the suburbs of the city in any empty field or even in carparking spaces or housing estate.
In the past, performances were usually of Chinese operas or puppet shows. The performances are meant to be for the spirits but also for people during the seventh month. With the decline of Chinese opera and traditional puppet shows, the performances evolved to become what is known today as Getai.
Younger people in Singapore may relate to Getai as kitsch, while older people enjoy dancing and singing along to familiar songs, often in Hokkien. Traditional singers such as Liu Lingling tend to dress conservatively, while young performers drawn to getai may choose more revealing outfits.
The backdrop of the stage is usually made of cardboard and clothes painted in bright colours, vibrantly illuminated by coloured spotlights. The performers normally don loud and glittery clothing. Some compères indulge in crude humour; others maintain a quick-witted dialogue, joking about local and current affairs, sometimes switching between Mandarin, local Chinese dialects, and even English and Indian languages.
A groundbreaking Getai was held in 2006. This was a twelve hour marathon Getai that saw many famous performers gracing the stage and bringing the crowd to their feet. The organiser was Peter Loh, a veteran in the getai scene. The marathon was a one-of-a-kind and it really awed the whole of Singapore.
Getai has been increasingly accepted and celebrated by the mainstream media. Royston Tan’s 2007 movie 881 is based on a pair of getai singers. The Straits Times’s social networking and citizen journalism portal STOMP holds the Getai Awards annually to honour popular getai artists. These artists are selected via voting by the general public.
In recent years, getai has also been organized for other Chinese festivals, such as the Mid-Autumn Festival. Resorts World Sentosa’s casino included getai in its 2010 Chinese New Year celebrations. Loyang Tua Pek Kong Temple arranged getai for the 2010 Mid-Autumn celebrations.