On the Chinese opera stage, actors rely on stylised gestures to express a certain situation or event, as shown in this photograph. In the background, on the right hand side, lies the wayang orchestra. The orchestra is an important part of the performance as it plays the music that is in perfect synchrony with every word, movement and gesture that is enacted. String, wind and percussion instruments usually make up the Chinese opera orchestra. Also known by the Malay term ‘wayang’, which means ‘performance’, Chinese opera in Singapore can be traced back to the 19th century with the arrival of Chinese immigrants. Up until the 1930s, wayang was a popular performing art, both as a platform for religious worship and as a cheap form of entertainment.