Phan Wait Hong
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Phan Wait Hong (b.1912, Shanghai, China -), Cultural Medallion recipient in 1992, is a legendary figure in the history of Beijing opera in Singapore. She came to Singapore from Shanghai at the age of 14 and rose from rank and file to become a lead actress in a professional company that toured Malaya and Indonesia with great success in the 1940s and 1950s. Phan has been associated with many milestone events in the development of Beijing opera.
Born in a humble setting in Shanghai, Phan left school virtually illiterate at the age of eight and entered a world of song, action and revelry by learning Beijing opera. She started her career in Singapore at the tender age of 14 in 1926 when she was engaged to sing Beijing opera songs in restaurants, which she was able to do flawlessly despite being illiterate. Her wage was a monthly salary of S$60.
Phan is best known for her role as the Laosheng, or "old man", which she developed into her specialty. She is particularly well known for her lead role of Emperor Han Xian Di in Emperor Han Xian Di Plans to Curb Cao Cao's Power, and also in Thrashing the Dragon Robe.
During the later years of her career, Phan also assumed the role of Laodan, or "old lady". Her excellent portrayal in 1980 of the role of She Taijun, the formidable matriarch of the patriotic family of the Song Dynasty in Women Generals of the Yang Family is considered one of Phan's more important works, and serves as a benchmark for younger performers.
In 2002, at the age of 90, Phan performed at the Ancient Museum Theatre in Suzhou, China, at the invitation of the Suzhou Cultural Broadcasting Television Authority, to much acclaim.
Besides performing, Phan was one of the first to teach Beijing opera in Singapore. On a number of occasions, she crossed genre to train Teochew opera as well.
1912 : Born in Shanghai
1920 : Started learning Beijing opera.
1926 : Came to Singapore.
1930 : Married in Singapore.
1958 : Taught at the Hua Lam Dramatic Association.
1960 : Invited to be honourable advisor of the Liu Yi Ru Yue She.
1964 : Taught Five Flowers Cave for the Hua Lam Dramatic Association; husband Gong Yu Tang passed away.
1969 : Taught at the National Theatre Club.
1992 : Withdrew from Ping Sheh, Singapore's oldest Beijing opera troupe, and joined Tian Yun Amateur Beijing Opera Troupe as a founding member.
1995 : Gave her farewell performance during the Chinese Cultural Festival on March 7.
1968 : In Zhu Lian Zai for Ping Sheh's 29th anniversary show.
1971 : In a fund-raising show for the National Stadium with Hong Kong movie superstar Li Li Hua in The Jade Bracelet.
1975 : In Plum Dragon Town for the Chinese Women's Association; San Niang Teaching Her Son, in Taiwan, organised by the Wen Hua Beijing Opera
1976 : In Thrashing Dragon Robe, in Taiwan, organised by for the Wen Hua Beijing Opera Association.
1980 : In Thrashing Dragon Robe, in Taiwan; played the lead role in Women Generals of the Yang Family for Ping Sheh's 40th anniversary show.
1984 : In Mu Gui Ying Appointed as a Marshal, a gala that marked Ping Sheh's 44th anniversary.
1993 : In Fishing for a Golden Turtle, featured in A Musical Rendezvous, organised by the SAF Musical Groups
1995 : In Cao Cao's Cruelty and Thrashing Dragon Robe, featured in Palanquins and Paladins, organised by the Chinese Opera Society for the Chinese
1996 : Excerpt from Women Generals of the Yang Family for the Chinese Opera Institute's fund raising dinner.
1997 : In Chinese Opera Week organised by the Chinese Opera Institute.
1998 : At Thailand Cultural Centre with the Chinese Opera Institute.
1999 : In Thrashing Dragon Robe and Cao Cao's Cruelty at the Chinese Opera Academy in Beijing, China.
2001 : In Cao Cao's Cruelty for the Chinese Opera Institute's 6th Anniversary Show.
2002 : In Thrashing Dragon Robe in Suzhou, China, presented by the Chinese Opera Institute; in Cao Cao's Cruelty and Justice Bao's Apology in her 90th
Birthday Gala organised by the Chinese Opera Institute.
2006 : In Fishing for a Golden Turtle at the International Conference organised by the Chinese Opera Institute and the National Museum of Singapore.
1992 : Cultural Medallion, Theatre/Chinese Opera.
1994 : Excellence Award for Artistic Contribution, Marie Claire magazine.
Chua Soo Pong
Cheah, U. H. (2001, January 27). Playing a role in history [Microfilm: NL 22114]. The Business Times, p. 18.
Chin, S. F. (1995, March 8). Grande dame of Peking Opera bows out in style [Microfilm: NL 19802]. The Straits Times, p. 2.
Chin, S. F. (1995, January 18). Phan Wait Hong: Beijing opera is my second life [Microfilm: NL 19741]. The Straits Times, p.12.
Chua S. P. (2002). Modern ancients: Chinese opera in Singapore. In V. Purushothaman (Ed.), Narratives: Notes on a cultural journey: Cultural Medallion recipients 1979-2001 (p. 14-17). Singapore: National Arts Council.
(Call no.: RSING 700.95957 NAR)
Guan, L. B. (1993, October 24). A life of leisure in old Shanghai [Microfilm: NL 20101]. The Straits Times, p. 4.
He, Z. (2001, May 14). Star singers to celebrate anniversary [Microfilm: NL 22169]. The Straits Times, Life, p. 3.
Ong, J. (1994). Grand old dame. Marie Claire, April, 26-28.
(Call no.: RSING 052 MC )
Sng, P. Y. (1995, March 10). Farewell to a truly worthy master [Microfilm: NL 19802]. The Straits Times, p. 30.
Tan, B. H. (1983, September 29). Amazon on stage and in real life [Microfilm: NL 14165]. The Straits Times, Section 3, p. 1
Teo, J. (2002). Phan Wait Hong. In V. Purushothaman (Ed.), Narratives: Notes on a cultural journey: Cultural Medallion recipients 1979-2001, p.20-21. Singapore: National Arts Council.
(Call no.: RSING 700.95957 NAR)
Wong, A. Y. (2002, December 2). Impressive performance by Phan Wait Hong [Microfilm: NL 24892]. The Straits Times, Life, p. 7.
Xu qu xue yuan cheng xian Pan Yuehong nu shi jiu shi hua dan jing ju zhuan chang yan chu = The Chinese Opera Institute presents Encomium : A Beijing opera gala commemorating Beijing opera diva Mdm Phan Wait Hong's 90th birthday. (2002). Xinjiapo: Xi qu xue yuan.
(Call no.: RSING Chinese 792.5095957 CHI)
Yue, M. Q. (2003). Fen mo chun qiu : Pan Yuehong de yi shu = Stage career behind painted face : Phan Wait Hong. Xinjiapo: Nanyang yi shu xue yuan.
(Call no.: RSING Chinese 792.5028092 YMQ)
The information in this article is valid as at 2009 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.
Personalities>>Biographies>>Artists>>Cultural Medallion Recipients
Phan, Wait Hong, 1912-
Arts>>Theatre>>Operas and operettas