Phan Wait Hong



Phan Wait Hong (潘月红) (b. 1914, Shanghai, China1–d. 1 September 2016, Singapore2) is a key figure in the history of Beijing opera in Singapore. She came to Singapore from Shanghai at the age of 143 and rose to become a lead actress in a professional company that toured Malaya and Indonesia with great success in the 1940s and 1950s. Phan was associated with many milestone events in the development of Beijing opera in Singapore. In 1992, she was awarded the Cultural Medallion (Chinese opera).

Early life
Born in Shanghai, Phan left school at the age of eight and began learning Beijing opera.4 She started her career in Singapore at the age of 14 when she was engaged to sing Beijing opera songs in restaurants.5

Phan’s original name was Pan Lan Zhen (潘兰珍), and Wait Hong was her stage name.6

Accomplishments
Phan is famed for her role as the laosheng (old man), which she developed into her specialty.7 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.8


During the later years of her career, Phan also assumed the role of laodan (old lady). Her 1980 portrayal of the role of She Taijun, the formidable matriarch of the patriotic family during the Song Dynasty in Women Generals of the Yang Family, is considered one of Phan’s more important works.9

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.10

Besides her performing career, Phan was also one of the first to teach Beijing opera in Singapore.11 On a number of occasions, she crossed genre to also train Teochew opera.12

Timeline13
1914:
Born in Shanghai.

1922: Begins learning Beijing opera.
1928: Arrives in Singapore.
1930: Marries in Singapore.
1958: Teaches at the Hua Lam Dramatic Association.
1960: Invited to be the honourable adviser of the Liu Yi Ru Yue She.
1964: Teaches Five Flowers Cave for the Hua Lam Dramatic Association; husband Gong Yu Tang passes away.
1969: Teaches at the National Theatre Club.
1992: Withdraws from Ping Sheh, Singapore’s oldest Beijing opera troupe, and joins Tian Yun Amateur Beijing Opera Troupe as a founding member.
1995: Gives her farewell performance during the Chinese Cultural Festival on March 7.
2002: Performs at the Ancient Museum Theatre in Suzhou, China.

Selected performances
1976: Thrashing Dragon Robe in Taiwan, organised by the Wen Hua Beijing Opera Association.

1980: Thrashing Dragon Robe in Taiwan; lead role in Women Generals of the Yang Family for Ping Sheh’s 40th-anniversary show.
1984: Mu Gui Ying Appointed as a Marshal, a gala for Ping Sheh’s 44th anniversary.14
1995: Cao Cao’s Cruelty and Thrashing Dragon Robe, featured in Palanquins and Paladins, organised by the Chinese Opera Society for the Chinese Cultural Festival.15
1996: Excerpt from Women Generals of the Yang Family for the Chinese Opera Institute’s fundraising dinner.16
1998: Thailand Cultural Centre with the Chinese Opera Institute.17
1999: Thrashing Dragon Robe and Cao Cao’s Cruelty at the Chinese Opera Academy in Beijing, China.

2001: Cao Cao’s Cruelty for the Chinese Opera Institute’s sixth-anniversary show.
2002: Thrashing Dragon Robe in Suzhou, China, presented by the Chinese Opera Institute; Cao Cao’s Cruelty and Justice Bao’s Apology at her 90th birthday gala organised by the Chinese Opera Institute.18
2006: Fishing for a Golden Turtle at the International Conference organised by the Chinese Opera Institute and the National Museum of Singapore.19

Awards
1992: Cultural Medallion (Chinese opera)20
1994: Excellence Award for Artistic Contribution, Marie Claire magazine21
2014: Chinese Opera Institute Prestige Award22



Author

Chua Soo Pong



References
1. Tan, B. L. (Interviewer). (1984, January 19). Oral history interview with Phan Wait Hong [Transcript of cassette recording no. 000368/17/01, n.p.]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
2. Leong, W. K. (2016, September 3). 80 years in opera. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
3. Guan, L. B. (1993, October 24). A life of leisure in old Shanghai. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Guan, L. B. (1993, October 24). A life of leisure in old Shanghai. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. 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, pp. 33–34. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 792.5028092 YMQ)
6. Tan, B. L. (Interviewer). (1984, January 19). Oral history interview with Phan Wait Hong [Transcript of cassette recording no. 000368/17/01, p. 3]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
7. Sng, P. Y. (1995, March 10). Farewell to a truly worthy masterThe Straits Times, p. 30. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Teo, J. (2002). Phan Wait Hong. In V. Purushothaman (Ed.), Narratives: Notes on a cultural journey: Cultural Medallion recipients 1979–2001. Singapore: National Arts Council, pp. 20–21. (Call no.: RSING 700.95957 NAR)
9. Teo, J. (2002). Phan Wait Hong. In V. Purushothaman (Ed.), Narratives: Notes on a cultural journey: Cultural Medallion recipients 1979–2001. Singapore: National Arts Council, pp. 20–21. (Call no.: RSING 700.95957 NAR)
10. 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. Singapore: National Arts Council, p. 17. (Call no.: RSING 700.95957 NAR)
11. Teo, J. (2002). Phan Wait Hong. In V. Purushothaman (Ed.), Narratives: Notes on a cultural journey: Cultural Medallion recipients 1979–2001. Singapore: National Arts Council, pp. 20–21. (Call no.: RSING 700.95957 NAR)
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. Singapore: National Arts Council, p. 16. (Call no.: RSING 700.95957 NAR)
13. 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, p. 205. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 792.5028092 YMQ)
14. 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, p. 205.
(Call no.: Chinese RSING 792.5028092 YMQ)
15. Chin, S. F. (1995, January 18). Phan Wait Hong: Beijing opera is my second life. The Straits Times, p. 20. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. 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, p. 206.
(Call no.: Chinese RSING 792.5028092 YMQ)
17. 受邀参加亚洲戏剧节 戏曲学院赴泰演出. (1998, August 27). 《联合晚报》 [Lianhe Wanbao], p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. 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, p. 206.
(Call no.: Chinese RSING 792.5028092 YMQ)
19. 戏曲研讨会-华族戏曲的变革与创新. (2006, December 16). 《联合早报》 [Lianhe Zaobao], p. 20. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Cheah, U.-H. (2001, January 27). Playing a role in history. The Business Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Ong, J. (1994, April). Grand old dame. Marie Claire, pp. 26–28. (Call no.: RSING 052 MC )
22. Leong, W. K. (2014, February 11). $1 million boost for Chinese opera. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.


Further resources

Chin, S. F. (1995, March 8). Grande dame of Peking Opera bows out in style. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Tan, B. H. (1983, September 29). Amazon on stage and in real lifeThe Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Wong, A. Y. (2002, December 2). Impressive performance by Phan Wait Hong. The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

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.: Chinese RSING 792.5095957 CHI)



The information in this article is valid as at 2016 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.

 

Subject
Award winners--Singapore--Biography
Personalities>>Biographies>>Artists>>Cultural Medallion Recipients
Operas, Chinese--Singapore
Phan, Wait Hong, 1912-
Actresses--Singapore--Biography
Award winners
Arts>>Theatre>>Operas and operettas