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 upper Burma. Summary
Myanmar (Burma) exists in a wartime and since recent political changes is becoming one of the most visited countries in the world. The country is eighty-seven per cent Buddhist, studded with monasteries, pagodas, dirt-track roads, oxcarts and elegant villages much as they were when the West intruded little more than 100 years ago. The country is still farmed by water buffalo, and its rituals remain true to their old-Asia form. Although tourism has increased significantly in the past 12 months there are many regions still 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 backstage 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.