Since the post-war years, the convention of nüwenwusheng – female performers playing civil and military male roles – in Cantonese opera has been a popular practice in Hong Kong, and one that has allowed several star performers to make a name for themselves on stage and on screen.

In this talk, Prof Li Siu-leung looks at the recent history of female cross-dressing in Hong Kong Cantonese opera and film, with special reference to Connie Chan Po-chu. Chan began her career as an apprentice to the legendary star of stage and screen Yam Kim-fai, one of the first actors to popularise the role of nüwenwusheng in Hong Kong. After starting out on stage, Chan soon moved into film and became known for playing men in a variety of film genres. After retiring from the film world in 1970, Chan made a successful comeback in 1999, this time on the Cantonese opera stage. Still an acclaimed star today, Chan is one of the few performers able to switch almost seamlessly between male and female characters both on stage and on screen.

27 April 2019 (Saturday)


Seminar Hall & Studio 5, 2/F, Xiqu Centre
(The talk will take place in the Seminar Hall, with live transmission to Studio 5.)

Prof Li Siu-leung


Free admission. Limited capacity on a first come, first served basis. Please register online in advance.


Ms Chan (852) 2200 0812,

Accessibility Services:
Cantonese audio description and Hong Kong sign language interpretation are available upon request with at least 14 days’ advance notice. Wheelchair accessible seats and companion seats are available on a first come, first served basis. Please request with at least 4 days’ advance notice.

Adverse Weather Arrangements:
The talk will be cancelled if a black rainstorm warning or a typhoon signal no. 8 or above is in force at/after 10:30am on the day of the event.

About Speaker:

Prof Li Siu-leung

Currently Adjunct Professor of Cultural Studies at Lingnan University, Prof Li Siu-leung was previously Head of Lingnan’s Cultural Studies, Dean and Professor of the School of Chinese Opera at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts and Adjunct Professor in the Music Department at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He has also taught at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and published works on Chinese opera and gender, Hong Kong film and pop culture, as well as comparative literature. Prof Li has served on various government and professional committees, including the Cantonese Opera Development Fund Advisory Committee, the Cantonese Opera Advisory Committee, the Intangible Cultural Heritage Advisory Committee, the Ko Shan Theatre Cantonese Opera Education and Information Centre Work Group, the Chinese Traditional Performing Arts Panel of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, and Barwo’s Supervisory Committee for the Yau Ma Tei Theatre Venue Partnership Scheme.

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