Staging China

Part of the Identities and Cultures in East Asia strand, the Staging China project (formerly Performing China on the Global Stage) continues to use Chinese theatre as a 'cultural bridge' to build dialogue and mutual understanding of cultural heritages, languages, narratives, values, beliefs and histories. The main focus of the project in the period 2014-16 is the creation of a ground-breaking digital library of theatre and performance in China.

A link to the digital library will be added in due course.

Led by Dr Ruru Li and Susan Daniels, Staging China brings together academics, research students and theatre practitioners to reinvigorate Chinese theatre as a practice-led/cross-disciplinary subject. It aims to influence academic institutions and individual researchers; and to impact on performing industries and the general public. The network extends across Europe, North America and Australasia, as well as China, Japan and Taiwan.

WREAC's work in Chinese theatre and performance has been stimulated by the Leeds-led European Cultural Co-operation Project (2008-10) which focused on the creative processes and social roles of opera in higher education, professional practice and cultural industries, and the Leeds-led Cao Yu centenary exhibition, film production and lecture programme.

External impact has been achieved through workshops and seminars and two major student performance tours of a devised stage work The Sun is Not for Us, based on the female characters from four of Cao Yu's plays.

Postgraduate students and early career researchers have attended events, several of whom were supported by network bursaries. Their critiques will be posted on the network website. In addition, the project funded a study tour by PhD student Lawrence Meng-chian Lee to Beijing, Nanjing, and Shanghai, China and Taipei, Taiwan, and will support language training in China for a PhD student in 2015. The project has also provided an opportunity for postgraduate students to work closely with leading academics and practitioners through two research internship engagements.

Activities within the Staging China project include:

  • Dr Ruru Li's attendance at the Association of Asian Performance workshop, Washington DC, USA, July and August 2012;
  • Workshops and seminars relating to performances of The Sun is Not for Us at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, August 2012;
  • The Sun is Not for Us student tour of China produced by stage@leeds, November 2012;
  • PhD student Lawrence Meng-chian Lee study tour of China and Taiwan, November 2012-January 2013;
  • International 'Performing China on a Global Stage: People, Society and Culture' symposium, Leeds, 26-27 March, 2013;
  • Leeds University and West Yorkshire Playhouse visit to Sichuan People's Art Theatre, Chengdu, China to develop a collaborative production, May 2013;
  • Shanghai Theatre Academy summer school, Shanghai, China, July-August 2013;
  • Network workshop, Hangzhou, China, November 2013;
  • Kunqu workshop at Leeds, 27 November 2013;
  • Hosting Professor Fu Jin a visiting professor from the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Art for three months, December 2013-February 2014;
  • International theatre and performance symposium, University of British Columbia, Canada, January 2014;
  • Digital workshop at Leeds, 23 January 2014;
  • Staging China website launch, February 2014;
  • Project internship, PGR David Yu Yuan, March-December 2014;
  • Shanghai Theatre Academy summer school, Shanghai, China, July-August 2014;
  • Network workshop, Hangzhou, China, and Taiwan, December 2014-January 2015;
  • Project internship 2015;
  • Development of a digital repository for theatre and performance in China;
  • PGR language training, China, summer 2015;
  • Network workshop, Taipei, Taiwan, November 2015.

The project's external website is