Han Lao Da (also known as Ann Jong Juan) has been active in Singapore Chinese theatre since the 1970s. Until the early 1990s, he was the Chairman and Head of Theatre Group of the Singapore Southern Arts Society, and Secretary-General of the Singapore Chinese Language Theatre Alliance. Many of his works were staged at the drama and arts festivals in Singapore.
In December 1986, he started the Sin Feng Xiang Sheng Society with Yang Shibin and several crosstalk enthusiasts. It was registered as the first crosstalk organisation in Singapore in the following year. From the early days of the Sin Feng Xiang Sheng Society, Mr Han worked tirelessly and played the promoter’s role to bring Chinese crosstalk masters and arts organisations to perform in Singapore. He forged close friendships with the Chinese Ballad Singers Association and crosstalk masters like Ma Ji and Jiang Kun, and collaborated with them on cultural exchanges. This brought high quality crosstalk performances to Singapore, and enhanced crosstalk appreciation amongst local enthusiasts and crosstalk practitioners. In 1995, the Chinese Ballad Singers Association awarded the Honorary Certificate to Han Lao Da, and for many years invited him and representatives of the Sin Feng Xiang Sheng Society to attend the prestigious China Art Festival, and for exchanges to various provinces and cities in China. Exchanges with the Malaysian crosstalk scene started since 1986 when Mr Han and the late Yao Xinguang, the ‘father of Malaysian crosstalk’, became friends.
Mr Han played a major role in the development, promotion and localisation of crosstalk in Singapore. Since creating ‘The Gift Ticket’ in 1973, he has written countless scripts, many of which have been performed on stage. He has also published three crosstalk collections and commentaries, and written more than 60 crosstalk works. In 1996, the Sin Feng Xiang Sheng Society organised the ‘Tan Tian Special Crosstalk Performance’ to raise funds for the Chinese Development Assistance Council. In 2012, the Young People’s Performing Arts Ensemble put up the ‘Lao Da Special Crosstalk Performance’.
Han Lao Da’s meticulous research for his crosstalk script-writing has resulted in diverse works that have inherited traditional crosstalk techniques and are infused with characteristics of local culture. In 1990, he participated in the Shanghai International Crosstalk Exchange Performance, and showcased for the first time in China a Singaporean crosstalk ‘A Chain of Love Stories’ performed by Yang Shibin and Huang Jiaqiang. The basis of this crosstalk is an Indian love song, which reflected Singapore’s unique multiculturalism. In 2005, Han Lao Da led Wang Weilin and Weng Yingfen in participating in the televised crosstalk competition organised by the Beijing Television Station. Their crosstalk item ‘One-Day Tour of Singapore’ captured the attention of the Beijing audience and the Chinese judges. In 2008, his performance of ‘Chinese English Parody’ won him the Special Prize for the Overseas Category in the crosstalk competition organised by the China Central Television. In 2015, he wrote ‘Unresolved Issues of the Lion City’, the inaugural attempt to use the crosstalk format to reflect local history. His works, ‘Unresolved Issues of the Lion City’ in 2015 and the ‘Queries on History’ series in 2016, both demonstrated how crosstalk could leave the audience in stitches and still manage to stimulate thinking about life and history. These can be considered iconic local crosstalk works.
Approaching age 70 now, Han Lao Da has spent nearly 40 years of involvement in a career of crosstalk. Till now he still perseveres in making sterling contributions in innovating, promoting, and passing on the tradition of the local crosstalk genre.
Information accurate as of 20 May 2017.