The Beijing Opera and “Peng Seah” in Penang

What is Beijing Opera?
Beijing Opera originated in Tang Dynasty. It was called Beijing Opera because performing troupes of this kind of opera were always invited to perform in Beijing during the Ching Dynasty. Beijing opera is also named “Ping Ju” (Ping Opera) because Beijing was once called Bei Ping. Beijing Opera has a unique form, which includes singing, dancing and martial arts.

The origin of “Peng Seah” in Penang
Before WWII, there was a Beijing Opera troupe called “Shanghai Troupe” performing in Penang. Because of the war, the Shanghai Troupe got stranded in Penang. The instructors of the troupe began teaching Beijing Opera in Penang.

The founding of “Peng Seah”
1947, a group of Beijing Opera enthusiasts formed “Peng Seah” with the Rice Mill Association as their site of activity. Peng Seah performed at the New World Park to raise fund for Phor Thay Primary School. More than 6,000 dollars had been raised. 1950, Peng Seah moved to the Rubber Association at 16 Anson Road.

Activities of Ping Seah
Since its founding in 1947, Ping Seah was active in charity activities, especially fundraising performances for schools.
Between 1947 and 1959, Ping Seah had organized 17 public performances, including:
• February 1953, in collaboration with Peng Seah Malacca, raised fund for Nanyang University in Singapore. The repertoire included Chun Qiu Match,
White Water Beach, and White Horse Slope.
• 1954, raised fund for the hall of Tong Shan School. The repertoire included The Death of Zhou Yu.
• 1955, raised fund for Sacred Heart High School, Balik Pulau.
• 1955, to celebrate the 9th anniversary of Ping Seah, performed Farewell My Concubine, The Death of Zhou Yu and Meeting in Old City.
• Performers included Datin Tan Khoon Gaik, who played the concubine; and Dato’ Tan Hui Yam, who played Zhou Yu.
• July 1956, in collaboration with other Beijing Opera societies in Malaya and Singapore, had fundraising performance for the construction of the
hall of Penang Chinese Girls’ High School at the  hall of Chung Ling High School.
• Therefore the hall of Penang Chinese Girls’ High School was named “Peng Hui Tong,” meaning the hall donated by Ping Seah.
• The repertoire included Farewell My Concubine and The Death of Zhou Yu.
• 1959, in collaboration with Peng Seah Singapore, raised fund for Phor Thay High School at Ping Hui Tong of Penang Chinese Girls’ High School.
160,000 dollars had been raised.
• The repertoire included The Mercy of Dragon and Phoenix and Chang Ban Slope. Performers included Lim Chiu Yah (playing Sun Quan), and Zhao
Yue Ying (playing the Emperor Dowager of Wu).
• 1963, performed The Daughters of Yang Family to celebrate the 17th anniversary.
• 1964 gave up public performance. Performed only on special occasions.
• Dissolved in 1999, Peng Seah had became a past story.