Backstage Mandalay

Burmese street performance

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This book provides a glimpse under the curtain into the netherworld of the ancient Burmese performing arts. Backstage Mandalay reveals the private rituals of classical Burmese performers as they prepare for all-night festivals in the streets of upper Burma.

Myanmar (Burma) exists in a timewarp. The country is eighty-seven percent practicing Buddhist, studded with monasteries, pagodas, dirt-track roads, oxcarts and elegant villages much as they were when the West intruded little more than a century ago. The country is still farmed by water buffalo and its rituals remain true to their old-Asia form.

This little-visited country is now increasingly in the news. But tourism remains at very low levels and many regions of the country are stictly off limits. This book, in the form of a photo essay captures an insider’s view of a fragile and mystical aspect of Burmese culture.

The curtain is drawn to reveal the back-stage of the Burmese theater; a world populated by animist spirit media (nakadaws), monsters from the Ramayana Buddhist texts, princesses (minthami) and princes (mintha). We go behind the scenes to see the preparations of these performers as they travel around the towns and countryside between temporary bamboo stages constructed for all-night festivals.

With contributing essays from Professor Ward Keeler and U Ohn Maung, this book is both a visual and informative testament to Burmese performing arts.

978 616 7339 22 1
Daniel Ehrlich
290 x 290 mm
No. of pages
110 pages
Hardback, 290 photographs