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  • Writer's pictureRobin Yong

Chinese Opera Showcase 百年戲班 老賽桃源

Updated: Apr 17, 2021

In 2018, I actually had a photo exhibition at the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall in Singapore.

Sun Yat-sen (孫中山 / 孫逸仙; born Sun Wen 孫文; 12 November 1866 – 12 March 1925)was a Chinese philosopher, physician, and politician, who served as the provisional first president of the Republic of China and the first leader of the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party of China). He is referred as the "Father of the Nation" in the Republic of China for his instrumental role in the overthrow of the Qing dynasty during the Xinhai Revolution. Sun is unique among 20th-century Chinese leaders for being widely revered in both mainland China and Taiwan. The Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, also known as Wan Qing Yuan, and formerly as the Sun Yat Sen Villa, is a two-story colonial style villa in Balestier, Singapore. The villa is now a museum commemorating Sun Yat Sen, the founding father of the Republic of China who visited Singapore nine times between 1900 and 1911.

Located at 12 Tai Gin Road off Ah Hood Road in Balestier, the played a crucial role in the 1911 Xinhai Revolution by serving as the Tongmenghui's base in Nanyang (Southeast Asia) in the early 20th century.

The Exhibition was named One Step Closer to Wayang, featuring backstage photos of Lao Sai Tao Yuan - Singapore's oldest Chinese Street Opera troupe, with a 150+ year history. Originating from the 1860s, they used to be a household name and was immensely popular in Singapore and neighbouring Malaysia until the 1960s. With their classical make-up, loud music and high pitched singing all set in a colourful wooden stage box, they are now seen less frequently - mostly during temple festivals only nowadays. Actors and actresses are mostly veterans who still have a lot of energy and passion for their craft. I always enjoy photographing Lao Sai Tao Yuan because the people speak in exactly the same dialect as my grandmother. The series of photos have won me quite a few prizes at Australian's TOP Emerging Photographers, Melbourne Documentary Film Festival and the Moscow International Foto Awards etc. This is one of my favourite projects depicting a popular theme of our Singaporean heritage and I am really honoured to have the exhibition at the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall.

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