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Behind the Curtained Door: the origin story


Following a successful premiere in Manchester last year, the theatre production Behind the Curtained Door is coming to Leeds on 14 June as part of its 2023 tour.

A production commissioned by Manchester Confucius Institute, written by Chinese playwright MW Sun and featuring a cast of British Chinese characters, this performance is an opportunity to bring more Asian and Chinese representation into our local arts programme.

Just as important, it is a wonderful piece of theatre that will make for a great evening’s entertainment. The play explores universal themes including class, female friendships, love, relationships, generational trauma and more. As cast member Oljas Kudabayev says:

It's a cultural play [..] about a Chinese group of people. But, at the same time, it's also a really nuanced, complex, amazing piece of theatre that everyone should come and watch regardless of the culture it's written about!

The origin story

Behind the Curtained Door came about through conversations between playwright Mimi Sun and Manchester Confucius Institute Deputy Director Karen Wang.

Partly inspired by the success of From Shore to Shore, an innovative theatre project that Mimi was also involved in, Karen was keen to see more plays reflecting the experiences of Chinese communities in the UK.

Given a wide brief to write a play about Chinese people, Mimi refined the story and characters over a few years, drawing from her knowledge of British-Chinese immigrant stories and life experiences. The result is a nuanced and entertaining piece about three Chinese women of different generations, who we meet following the death of the main character’s husband.

The play is in English and the script includes some Mandarin Chinese to add authenticity and depth, but you don’t need to understand this to fully enjoy the play (although for native speakers and Mandarin learners in the audience it is an added bonus!)

The cast and crew are composed primarily of young Asian and British Asian creatives, a result of strong engagement with the University of Manchester’s drama department and local Chinese communities throughout the process.

After being early supporters of the From Shore to Shore project our Business Confucius Institute is delighted to see more theatre productions like this being made and to have this opportunity to bring Behind the Curtained Door to Leeds to entertain, educate and inspire attendees of all backgrounds.

Find out more and get tickets


The plot and characters

The story revolves around three women whose friendships prove to be stronger than the lies and betrayals they face together.

In a run-down flat in Oldham, Ah Luk is coming to terms with the recent loss of her husband while her neighbour Ping and their niece Yiling attempt to comfort her.

It tells the story of how three Chinese women find love and happiness while their lives disintegrate.

Meet the cast and crew

Read our interviews with the cast members playing Ah Luk, Ping, Yiling and Cheung Bak.

Read our interviews with the play's director, producer, and sound designer.

Watch the trailer