Storyline

Song of the Female Textile Workers is a one person performance set in an apartment in Shanghai overlooking the Huangpu River and the new Pudong developments, including the famous Oriental Pearl Tower.

The main Character ‘Liu’ is a gaming company executive based in the UK who has returned to Shanghai following the death of her mother. Due to travel restrictions imposed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, Liu was unable to attend her mothers funeral but has arrived in Shanghai to scatter her mother’s ashes with her uncle.

The performance begins as Liu arrives at her mothers apartment overlooking the Bund. She is on the telephone to her boyfriend in the UK and her conversation is interrupted by a call from her uncle to talk about arrangement for the following day and to inform her that her mothers belongings have been left for her, in a box in the apartment.

Liu turns on the TV before calling her boyfriend back for another brief conversation. The TV is showing the All-female Yue Opera film ‘The Love of the Butterfly’.

As the performance progresses, Liu’s grandmother appears to her, reflected in the apartment window. Her wishes for Liu and the love that her mother had for her are revealed as their lives are explored through the historic events that shaped China’s economic development over the previous century.

Grandmother, a Yue Opera performer who entered Shanghai to perform, as All-female Yue Opera was developed in the early 20th century, later cared for Liu, taught her to sing and regularly took her to Yue Opera performances.  Mother had followed the path of undivided loyalty to the party, through fervent work in the Shanghai textile factories, winning ‘Red Flower’ awards for her labours, but losing the adoration of her daughter.

Amongst the box of possessions Liu discovers articles that bring recollections of her own love of opera and letters that her mother had written, but never sent, which reveal the love that she had for her daughter, but had not been previously revealed as they were hidden from Liu through the circumstances and events of the time.

Across the performance, Rousang Wang will assume each of the three female roles as she performs period songs and specially choreographed butterfly dance movements, supported by documentary footage and animations as the apartment window is transformed to a display of animations and historical footage from four distinct periods in Shanghai’s development:

Pre-1949 Period.

All images screenshot from Project Footage:

Moa’s Era.

All images screenshot from Project Footage:

Market Reform Period

All images screenshot from Project Footage:

Industrialization and Digitalization

All images screenshot from Project Footage: