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A successful performance in Leeds kickstarts UK tour for Behind the Curtained Door


Theatre production Behind the Curtained Door began its tour in Leeds on 14 June, attended by a diverse mix of students, staff and members of the public.

In organising this event, which included a networking reception and a Q&A with playwright MW Sun, the Business Confucius Institute at the University of Leeds (BCI) aimed to promote a sense of community on campus and celebrate the representation of Chinese characters in the play.

Members of Chinese communities from the University and local area gathered at stage@leeds alongside non-Chinese attendees to enjoy a play which addresses universal themes including love, loss, and female friendship. Described by attendees as “touching”, “insightful”, “authentic” and “thought-provoking”, the play also includes some Mandarin lines in the script and a range of references to Chinese culture which audience members could identify with, learn from, or both.

Also in the audience was Karen Wang, Deputy Director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Manchester, who commissioned the play and asked playwright Mimi Sun to write a story about Chinese people.

In addition to centring the experiences of British Chinese people, underrepresented in the arts, the resulting play explores the lives of older Chinese immigrants and people without much money who work in shops and restaurant kitchens. The intergenerational family relationships seen on stage allow Mimi to address some of the cultural differences within the Chinese community too – seen in discussions about astrology, feng shui and traditions surrounding grief and death.

Julia Bennell, Dean of Leeds University Business School (LUBS) commented that “the play provided some insight into Chinese culture in a really engaging way”.

Members of the postgraduate community from LUBS and other faculties were in attendance, enjoying the vibrant atmosphere at stage@leeds during this quieter out-of-term period.

The cast and crew consisted of young creatives from the University of Manchester, proud to be putting on one of the first all South-East Asian productions at their university and excited to take it on tour to Leeds, Nottingham and Edge Hill Confucius Institutes this summer.

Producer Yanni Ng said;

Seeing the large number of South-East Asian people in the audience old and young was everything we could've hoped for.

“The reason why we all love theatre in the first place is to entertain and show stories that people can relate to and think about."

The addition in Leeds of a Q&A with playwright Mimi Sun allowed for a deeper exploration of the language, culture and themes in the play. In conversation with the BCI’s Frances Noble, Mimi shared the inspiration behind the characters and how the plot developed, discussed the Mandarin lines in the script and explained more about the traditions she included in the story.

The questions and comments from Chinese and non-Chinese attendees showed that the play had indeed increased understanding of underrepresented groups, provided food for thought and spoken to people in different ways.

BCI Executive Director Dr Giles Blackburne said about the event;

It was a great reminder about the unifying force of human stories and feelings which resonate beyond and across cultures.

Behind the Curtained Door continues its tour with performances at Nottingham and Edge Hill Universities.

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