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Work commissioned by Michelle Yim

The Empress and Me

The Empress and Me is based on the amazing true story of the Princess Der Ling who, following her unique experience of life at the Manchu court and close relationship with the Empress Dowager, became an international celebrity. This new play looks for the real woman behind the persona of Princess Der Ling and explores just what it is like to be raised between two cultures.


This one woman show is commissioned by Michelle Yim and written by Bloomsbury playwright Ross Ericson as an exploration of the search for cultural identity and deracination which are experienced by many British East Asians.

This project’s development was supported using funding from Arts Council England. The show is now being produced by British East-Asian Theatre Company Red Dragonfly Productions and is available for bookings in 2019-2020. Click here to request a touring pack or to have a chat if you are interested in having the production at your venue.


The Empress and Me has visited:

Rialto Theatre, Brighton Fringe, 6,9,12 & 26 May 2017​

Rotunda Theatre, Buxton Fringe, 9,12-13 & 19-21 July 2017

Assembly George Sq Studio, Edfringe, 3-28 Aug 2017

Ognisko Polskie, London 29 Oct 2017

Bakehouse Studio, Adelaide Fringe, 23,27 Feb & 2 Mar 2018

Blue Room, Southbank Centre London, China Changing Festival, 7 Oct 2018

Irving Studio, Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham, 9 & 11 Oct 2019

Aberdeen Arts Centre, Aberdeen Confucius Institute 27 Sept 2023

International School Aberdeen, Aberdeen 28 Sept 2023

The Empress and Me Tour Dates

Sat  09 March 2024            Capstone Theatre           2:30pm

                Hosted by Confucius Institute of the University of Liverpool

                As part of the Angel Field Festival, Liverpool Hope University

Written by Ross Ericson

Performed by Michelle Yim

Costume assisted by Laura Boseley

Produced by Grist to the Mill Productions

Just who do you think I am?

Lizzie Yu, daughter of a Chinese Diplomat and Eurasian mother, was raised in France to be every bit the Victorian Lady, but when her father is recalled home she suddenly finds herself living in the Forbidden City, entangled in the politics of the Chinese Court and lady in waiting to the infamous Empress Cixi. Just who is Lizzie Yu? Does she really know? A story of one woman's search for identity in an ever changing world.

Press Reviews 

Adelaide Theatre Guide 'Full of ambition, politics and cultural tension'

FringeReview 'Absolutely fascinating – a window onto an early twentieth century culture now lost for ever.'

TheStage 'Yim is a winning performer.'

Stage Whisper 'It is the message the audience takes away that is powerful... of a woman who is trying to find out who she really is in multiple cultures but in which she feels she doesn’t really belong.

FringeGuru 'An interesting journey to an unfamiliar place, and an enjoyable insight into a remarkable tale.'

Broadway Baby 'An engaging manifestation of a fascinating woman who was clearly mistress of her own destiny in defiance of her times and culture'

Audience Reviews 

Marianne Noble, Uni of Aberdeen (2023) - It is such an engaging show that manages to fit in a lot of social history in a really easy and enjoyable way.

Nicola Gibson (2017) - Wonderful, delightful little play... Brilliantly and charmingly acted.

Diya Wen (2017) - I like the performance & story and the subject. I'm proud to see Chinese face here at Brighton Festival

Michael Aubrey (2017) - A fascinating account of a remarkable life, performed with skill, conviction and great style

Beverley Howard (2017) - Very engaging... Extremely well cast and beautifully dressed.

Alison Wiklund (2017) - Excellent subject matter: the human condition in all its variations... East on West! 

John A. Hill (2017) - Absolutely brilliant. Fascinating and hugely interesting portrayal from a gifted performer.

Jan & Alan Wallin (2017) - Excellent performance, really made the history come alive. It brought back memories of our visit to the Forbidden City and China and its people. Excellent set.

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