Casting Fu Manchu: PREMIERE and Q&A panel

1st December 2020

19:00 - 20:30

The premiere of CAN's fifth digital commission, Casting Fu Manchu by Eelyn Lee, with a post-screening Q&A with Eelyn and actors from the film.


Join us for the premiere of CAN’s fifth digital commission, Casting Fu Manchu by Eelyn Lee.

In 1912, when Sax Rohmer invented the evil Chinese doctor set on world domination, Yellow Peril was rife. Often painted as a faceless existential threat to the western world, east Asians were seen as a force that needed to be suppressed. Over 100 years later, COVID-related racist attacks towards east/SE Asians has demonstrated that Yellow Peril is still alive today.

Despite being in the public eye for over 90 years, the popular Chinese villain has only ever been played by white men, including Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee. In her film, Lee subverts the practice of ‘yellow face’ by inviting actors of east and SE Asian heritage to audition for the role of Fu Manchu. Over 50 actors, male, female and non-binary, sent her self shot audition tapes with their own re-appropriated versions of the character, a selection of which form the basis of the film.

Casting Fu Manchu continues Lee’s exploration of monsters, fear and othering.

After the film screening, Eelyn will be joined by Elisabeth Gunawan and Daniel York Loh, actors from the film, to talk through the themes of the piece, the film’s place in the context of today, and take questions from the audience. The event is hosted by CAN’s Jodie Gilliam.

This free event will take place via Zoom – register your place now to receive the link ahead of the event. Headphones are recommended for the best sound quality when watching the film.

The film screening will last for 45 minutes followed by the panel and Q&A.

Content warnings: Please be aware that this film includes discussion and images of yellowface and racist practices. The Q&A panel will include discussion around these issues so may include further examples of racist experiences that may be upsetting for some audience members.


Eelyn Lee is an award-winning artist and filmmaker who has exhibited across UK including Barbican, Tate Modern, National Portrait Gallery and Whitechapel Gallery as well as internationally in Paris, Berlin, Bogotá and Toronto. Her socially engaged practice combines collective research, devised theatre, screen writing and filmmaking to create frameworks for ensembles of collaborators to work together. Her Chinese/English heritage motivates her interest in race, identity and ’othering’. She is currently developing a narrative feature film exploring empire and race with a twist on the western and horror genres.

Elisabeth Gunawan is an Indonesian actor, theatremaker and physical performer based in London and Singapore. She is an associate artist of several cutting-edge physical theatre companies including the David Glass Ensemble, Flabbergast Theatre and Created a Monster. Her neo-bouffon/mime piece Unforgettable Girl about the journey of a Thai mail-order bride was recently featured as part of Bloomsbury Festival’s New Wave Programme. During the lockdown, she created and performed a critically-acclaimed piece of digital theatre Stampin’ in the Graveyard as part of the Electric Dreams Online festival and Knaive Theatre’s Digital Lyceum.

Daniel York Loh is an actor, writer, filmmaker and musician. As an actor he has worked at the Royal Shakespeare Company, Royal Court and National Theatre. His recent work, as a writer, includes: The Fu Manchu Complex (Ovalhouse/Moongate); Forgotten 遗忘 (Moongate/New Earth/Arcola/Theatre Royal, Plymouth);  Invisible Harmony 无形的和谐 (Papergang/Chinese Arts Now/South Bank Centre); Freedom Hi 自由閪 (Papergang/Vault Festival) [contributing writer]. He is featured in the best-selling essay collection The Good Immigrant.


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