Song of the Female Textile Workers ‘In rehearsal’ May 2021

Streaming from: Thursday 27th May 11.00am

View Rehearsal Here

Live Online Discussion with the Creative team Friday 04th June 11.00am

Reserve your ticket here



Starring: Rousang Wang

Produced by Haili Ma

Script by Haili Ma

Script consultant: Mary Cooper

Directed by Steve Ansell & Haili Ma

Music: Jianyao Ye

Lyrics: Shu An

Digital creators: Nick Bax and Abby Hambleton


Created in association with:

Shanghai Yue Opera House, stage@leeds, Human VR, Leeds Museums and Galleries and the Shanghai Textile Museum

Funded by UKRI Arts and Humanities Research Council

Lu, a UK-based gaming executive, was unable to attend her mother’s funeral due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but in Summer 2021 she returns to Shanghai to scatter her mother’s ashes. Arriving in her mother’s apartment, the ghost of Lu’s grandmother appears to her, questioning why she left Shanghai and why she no longer sings yueju. Lu’s mother’s belongings then prompt memories of the last conversation which she had with her mother: Lu’s mother, once a Shanghai textile factory model worker had been made redundant along with 500,000 female textile workers during Shanghai’s economic transition in the 1990s, at which time Lu was determined to ‘grasp the opportunity to see the world’. Overcoming years of deeply buried guilt and misunderstanding, Lu gradually re-finds her voice and movements in the all-female yueju Love of the Butterfly.

Song of the Female Textile Workers tells the story of three generations of women and their intertwined love and passion in pursuing their careers, set against individual historical socio-political background. The story presents a hundred years of China’s socio-economic and political transition: from the pre-1949 rise of textile industry and yueju as China’s first female working class’ own art form; Mao Zedong’s era of textile industry and yueju nationwide expansion; to the new millennium post-industrial economic transition of textile industry heritage, whilst yueju remains China’s second largest and most popular opera form and the cultural symbol of the past and present Shanghai female working class.

Leeds Industrial Museum exhibition: Song of the Female Textile Workers

More on the project: Song of the Female Textile Workers