GEORGE TOWN: It takes more than just a beard and a costume to play the God of Prosperity, whose “appearance” is in demand at events during the days leading up to Chinese New Year.
Just ask Kelvin Lim, the founder of Chao Yi Teochew Opera and Puppet Cultural Group.
“When we play the God of War or Justice Pao, we cut an imposing picture.
“It is different for the God of Prosperity, who is an auspicious figure. Being the bearer of prosperity, he should be more approachable.
“The way we walk and speak, it should mirror the character,” he told Sunday Star here yesterday.
With the Year of the Dog just around the corner, the 56-year-old, whose troupe has grown to about 30 people, is busier than ever.
With up to six events per day, Lim would even sleep with his make-up on after a long day at work.
“Sometimes, the travelling takes long hours as we receive invitations even from Sarawak or Johor. But this is where the passion and dedication come in.
“Regardless of how tired we are, we stay in character – even when we have to be under the hot sun for hours wearing the heavy costumes,” said the former chef who now does the job full-time.
However, the downside to the profession, said Lim, was missing out on the New Year celebration with his own family.
“Some of my troupe members will request for days off but it is the peak season.
“Generally, we try to fulfil the requests for bookings.
“My family understands that and our celebration only comes in after the peak season,” he said.
Lim said he wanted to hold classes for those interested in learning such skills, hoping that these could later be passed on.
“I believe that what we are doing will allow more people to appreciate Chinese culture.
“It brings me a lot of satisfaction to see people learning more about our tradition.
“When I was young, I was exposed to a lot of Chinese opera performances and puppet shows.
“But it seems the younger generation is no longer interested in the same thing,” he said.