Bloodshed in the Imperial Palace

Yilan Performing Arts Centre, Yilan, Taiwan, August 2009
Director: Sim Siew Tin
Set Designer: Aaron Yap
Lighting Designer: Aaron Yap
Produced by Singapore Bukit Panjang Hokkien Opera Troupe


Bloodshed in the Imperial Palace is a Chinese opera that focus a lot on the emotional struggles of the main characters. As such, scenery is kept minimal that consists of 4 pieces of translucent cloth and a platform that are permanently set on stage. While the platform gives a suggestion of hierarchy among the different characters on stage, the 4 pieces of cloth, being upright yet flimsy, represents the four basic virtues in Chinese culture: loyalty, piety, morality and uprightness. These virtues may have been strongly emphasised and enforced in ancient China, but in this play, they are being ignored became transparent to the characters in the story as they started to execute things against these virtues in pursue of their own material well-being.

The lighting aims to accentuate the ambience of the action; a style relatively unconvention in Chinese opera. Strong colours are employed on the cyclorama and cloth panels to create different lighting looks for different moods throughout the play, and the play of gobos gives subtle context to the various scenes while avoiding realism on stage.