Bridging the Gaps: mixed reality performance of Chinese Opera in Shanghai's rural and urban heritage sites


£59,7000 (£24,800 AHRC + £34,900 from project partners)

Partners and collaborators

Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre, Shanghai Municipal Government, Human VR Sheffield, Viridian FX York, Slung Low Leeds


This partnership development project will bring China and UK expertise into collaboration to explore the potential of mixed reality performance to bridge Shanghai’s rural and urban communities and their respective creative economies.

Our case study will be Chinese opera; a form of popular culture predominantly relating to rural communities, including rural workers migrating to Shanghai, yet which for indigenous urban audiences has low social and cultural capital. We will consider how mixed reality performances of Chinese Opera may create new connections between rural and urban audiences and the heritage sites that support its practice, while also appealing to new national and international constituencies.

By “mixed reality performance” we mean performance that uses common and novel technologies to merge “real” and “virtual” worlds in the audience’s experience and through which material and digital objects and actors interact in real time. Such performances may be fixed or locative and take place across one or multiple sites.


Rural-urban creative industries are targets of the latest strategic direction of the Chinese party-state. There is a substantial government investment in this area, exemplified by the Pudong Opera Village and Puxi Bund immersive theatre, with whom we anticipate the development, through this project, of a substantive bid or bids on mixed reality performance of Chinese Opera in rural and urban Shanghai.

In this context, our China participants are aiming towards long-term collaboration with UK research-industry partners and have committed in principle to cash and/or in-kind contribution to future partnership activities, as evidenced in their Letters of Support.

More broadly, our project activities address themes central to China's creative industries and prospective future state investment. 

Project website