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Vol 12 Issue 1

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The book spine is probably one of the most important yet ignored parts of a book, often playing second fiddle to the cover. It might be hard to believe but early books did not have titles on their spines, and books were arranged with their spines facing inwards.

Bangsawan is a form of traditional Malay opera or theatre that usually involves elements of drama, music, singing and dancing. The art form has its origins in the theatre of the immigrant Parsi community (Indians of Persian extract) in Malaya and was first performed in Penang in the 1870s. By the early 20th century, many bangsawan troupes emerged and the theatre form soon spread to other parts of Malaya. Stories used in bangsawan theatre are adapted from Indian, Arabian and Chinese folk tales, and the Sejarah Melayu (Malay Annals). This article by Juffri bin Supa’at traces the historical development of bangsawan in Singapore and showcases some of the more famous bangsawan troupes that have made an impact since the art form was introduced in Singapore in 1880. The article also examines the evolution of bangsawan theatre into its modern and contemporary forms – to appeal to a younger audience – that…