Song of the Female Textile Worker

Live online Q&A June 4th 11.00am – 12.30pm (BST)

Reserve your tickets here


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.

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 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.

Staring Rousang Wang

Producer and script wright: Haili Ma

Script consultant: Mary Cooper

Artistic Director: Steve Ansell

Digital team: Nick Bax and Abby Hambleton

Lyrics: Shu An
Music: Jianyao Ye

Project manager: Ken Proctor


In partnership with

Shanghai Yue Opera House


Human VR

Shanghai Textile Museum

Leeds Museums and Galleries


Funded by UKRI Arts and Humanities Research Council

Leeds Industrial Museum exhibition: Song of the Female Textile Workers

More on the project: Song of the Female Textile Workers