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Post-show discussion (June 2021)

On 4th June, stage@leeds hosted a rehearsal footage of Song of the Female Textile Workers followed by a post-performance talk open to the public. This was the first in a series of online outputs and the post-show discussion explored 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.

The panel consists of the UK-China creative team and is chaired by Dr. Joslin McKinney, Professor in Scenography at School of Performance and Cultural Industries, University of Leeds. 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 the panel live on the post-show Q&A.

The panel and audience discussed challenges and opportunities of online theatre creation across UK and China. It is agreed by all participants that textile heritage and female post-industrial socio-economic transition hold shared interest across Shanghai and Leeds local communities.

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 opera form and the cultural symbol of the past and present Shanghai female working class.

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. Further details can be found on the stage@leeds website here.

Steve Ansell and Haili Ma, addressing the audience in their post-performance discussion.