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Song of the Female Textile Workers - Live online Discussion

Friday 4 June 2021, 11:00 - 12:30
stage@leedsDigital online

Join members of the 'Song of the Female Textile Worker' creative team for a live discussion about the progress of the project so far.

The post-show discussion consists of a panel of the UK-China creative team and is chaired by Dr. Joslin McKinney, Associate Professor in Scenography at School of Performance and Cultural Industries, University of Leeds. We are delighted to have Rousang Wang, China national star opera performer (国家一级演员) and all-female yueju crossdressing male role (小生) from Shanghai Yue Opera House joining us live on the post-show Q&A.

The performance is created entirely online across UK-China creative teams in response to AHRC call on UK-China Creative Partnerships: Responding to the longer-term impacts of COVID-19. This rehearsal is the first in a series of online outputs and will be followed by a post-show discussion to explore challenges and opportunities of UK-China online theatre creation, in particular with reference to theatre aesthetics approaches, digital platform compatibilities, content censorship and audience connectivity.

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.

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.

Leeds Industrial Museum exhibition: Song of the Female Textile Workers

More on the project: Song of the Female Textile Workers