We interviewed the cast and crew to take you behind the scenes of theatre production Behind the Curtained Door.
The play is about three Chinese women whose friendships prove to be stronger than the lies and betrayals they face together. Commissioned by Manchester Confucius Institute, the play premiered in Manchester last year and is coming to Leeds on 14 June as part of its UK tour. Read more about the project in this post.
Oljas Kudabayev plays the role of Cheung Bak, Ah Luk's deceased husband. He's currently a student at the University of Manchester studying Drama and English Literature. Oljas hopes to pursue a career in acting or anything within the creative process in theatre and/or film.
The characters in the play are British Chinese. How do you describe your nationality?
British Asian (with parents from Kazakhstan).
What is your role in the production, and what was your motivation for getting involved?
I’m playing one of the cast members in Cheung Bak. I'm very excited to continue acting in various projects and to see an Asian led and written play is really exciting for me.
To see an Asian led and written play is really exciting for me
Please can you tell us a bit more about your character?
Cheung Bak is dead at the beginning of the play so my approach for this character, that has come back to speak to his grieving wife, is interesting to explore and not something I’ve specifically done before.
How did you feel when you first read the script for the play?
A plethora of emotions, very thrilled to perform after reading the script but also challenged by the complexity of the character and script. The lives of these three Chinese women is both heartwarming but melancholy and definitely resonated with me.
Which aspect of the project and tour are you most excited about?
Acting and travelling to different places and seeing what the responses and audiences are like in each one. It is a privilege to be able to do this and to be able to tell this story across parts of Northern England is very exciting.
Can you think of a detail (e.g. part of the set, or a line in the script) that you hope the audience will notice and appreciate? Can you describe why you think this detail is interesting/important?
One of my first lines in the play is “how are you managing” to my grieving wife. The way I perform this, in a very asserted way - shows that I haven’t come back just to console my wife but have another purpose.
Behind the Curtained Door features a full cast of British Chinese characters, which many people may not have seen before. Can you recommend any other plays, films or media that feature China or Chinese people as main characters?
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is fantastic and Michelle Yeoh is one of my favourite actors and an inspiration. She was also fantastic in Everything Everywhere All at Once. John Wick 4, an American film has Donnie Yen as one of the main characters and he is fantastic. On stage, Chinese Yue opera is known worldwide and famous for actresses playing male roles.
Can you tell us a fun or unusual fact about yourself?
I am a massive theme park enthusiast! I love travelling to different theme parks and experiencing different rollercoasters!