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SFTW concluding events (Nov 2021)

In mid-November, the Chinese and British partners will come together to hold an online symposium to discuss the results of the collaboration and the challenges in the process, and to prepare for the next stage of research development. The project will be widely disseminated in English and Chinese through performances, digital tools, documentaries, and journal articles.

The two day online conference will be held to discuss the process of creation, collaboration, and audience response across UK and China. It will present both research and industry partners papers, and will include a panel devoted to young scholars and students who have worked as interns and developed their research dissertations through this project.

The conference will also showcase the performance as well as a series of documentary films, which will be produced alongside the creative process, as documentation of project development.

The performance tells the story of three generations of women and their intertwined love and passion in pursuing their careers, set against individual historical socio-political backgrounds. 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’s 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 working class women in Shanghai both past and present.

Song of The Female Textile Workers, UK-China digital connectivity was a one year long project developed in response to the AHRC call on "UK-China Creative Industries Partnership Responding to the Long-term Impact of the Covid-19". The project takes Shanghai Yue Opera, a Shanghai female working class opera form as a case study and developed a mixed reality performance. The process examines the possible continued UK-China collaboration amid travel restrictions, and digital platform compatibility as well as UK-China audience connectivity.

The project is led by Haili Ma from the University of Leeds, in collaboration with stage@leeds, Leeds Industrial Museum, UK-based Human VR digital company, Shanghai Textile Museum and Shanghai Yue Opera House. Outputs include museum exhibition at Leeds Industrial Museum  as well as streamed performance at stage@leeds is entirely developed and produced online.

This project brings together digital resource of existing partners to examine opportunities and challenges of UK-China digital theatre online streaming, both live and recorded, for audience engagement. It responds to issues rising directly in response to COVID-19, but also address its long-term impact to sustainable UK-China creative industries partnership development. The project has demonstrated the potential UK-China arts and theatre collaboration via the digital space, which will have long impact in response to Covid-19 and future long-term UK-China partnership.

As both Shanghai and Leeds are the birthplaces of the world's textile industry, this project has attracted significant media and audience attention from across UK and China. The Leeds City Council press release described this project as ‘A fascinating new partnership project between Leeds and Shanghai is weaving together the histories of female textile workers through the power of Chinese opera!’ – Leeds Council News