Winner of the Irene Tilenius Bloom Prize for Summer 2019



Yihan Sun is a rising senior student majoring in Asian and Middle Eastern studies. All her life, she has had an intense passion for Chinese Yue opera theatre, a unique all-female-cast Chinese traditional performing art. She has received training and performed the operatic role of a male-impersonator (xiaosheng) in Yue opera for thirteen years. She considers it her life mission to promote awareness about and respect for traditional Chinese art forms before they are lost forever. 

This summer, she will attend summer courses on Chinese dramatic theories and traditional Chinese values at Peking University. In the meantime, she will participate in National Peking Opera Troupe training sessions and observe carefully the differences between performing styles of Peking Opera and Yue Opera. In addition to documenting her own experience, she will conduct interviews with professional Yue opera actresses, hoping to investigate their mental states both on-stage and in-real-life as male-impersonators portraying homosexual erotica. Her summer work will facilitate in creating her senior thesis on the topic of transgender performativity in traditional Yue opera theatre and its possible psychological consequences regarding the conceptualization of identity among male-impersonating actresses.