1996 Honorary Fellow
Pak suet-sin is the stage name of Chan Shuk-leung, whose family originally came from the County of Shunde in the province of Guangdong. At the age of 13, Miss Pak began her apprenticeship under mr Sit Gok-sin, one of the most accomplished stars in the Cantonese theatre tradition. As a young novice, Miss Pak at first appeared in many supporting roles with a number of well-known Companies. It was when she joined the Sun Sing Company that she met her perfect collaborator in the art of performance, Miss Yam Kim-fai. Together, in 1956, they formed the Sin Fung Ming Theatre Company.
With the strong artistic support of a third collaborator, the late Tong Dik-sang, a librettist and lyricist of exceptional talent, they set out to reform the art of Cantonese traditional theatre by establishing the highest artistic and technical standards; preserving the best of orthodox Cantonese sung drama; removing sloppy habits and mannerisms; reviving the concept of total theatre emanding meticulous attention on all aspects of performance: ensuring the quality of the text, improving the style and technique of singing, enhancing the beauty of stage movements and choreography, incorporating the best influences from other important traditions such as Peking opera and Kun Qü.
Pak Suet-sin was the driving force behind all this. She was not only the principal actress of the company, but also managed and directed the organization. She herself never ceased to learn and practice, and she demanded the same seriousness of purpose from all her colleagues. The achievements of the Sin Fung Ming Company under her leadership were decidedly among the greatest in the post-war era of Cantonese traditional theatre arts.
Towards the latter part of her performing career she helped to establish the Choh Fung Ming Company through which she devoted all her energy to the training of a new generation of singer-actors. In 1990, with the help of her friends and admirers, she established the Yam-Pak Charitable Foundation with the objective of providing support for research and study of Cantonese traditional dramatic arts.
Mr President, in recognition of her exceptional talent as a singer-actress and her life-long accomplishments in the preservation, revival and advancement of Cantonese traditional theatre, I present Madam Pak Suet-sin for the award of Fellowship of the Hong Kong academy for Performing Arts.