Listed below are our Asian and Indian All-star actors from both China and India. Their bios consist of their theatrical background, along with their experiences with cross-dressing and the public’s reaction. Enjoy!
Raja is a 25-year-old man who moved from Beijing, China to Dubai, India in hopes of reviving his acting career. Raja has been involved with theater for six years, his most prominent performance being Bhīma in the 1621 play “Kicaka in Bed with Bhīma”, an Indian narrative from the fourth book of the Mahabharata (Doniger, 335).
In the production, Bhīma’s wife became a victim of sexual harassment by the local, notorious hustler Kicaka (Doniger, 336). Per his wife’s request, Bhīma agreed to dress as her and trick Kicaka into thinking Bhīma was really his wife (Doniger, 336). Bhīma, cross-dressed in disguise, waited for Kicaka in a dark bedroom (Doniger, 337). When Kicaka entered, he was so overwhelmed with lust and excitement that he did not realize the “woman” was actually Bhīma (Doniger, 337). Bhīma proceeded to kill Kicaka as revenge for the harassment his wife, and countless other married women, had to endure (Doniger, 337).
Unlike European plays, cross-dressing in Indian literature was used as a lethal weapon used to gain power and possession (Doniger, 337). Raja prefers this type of strategy because he believes it is far more interesting and enticing than a sappy love story or typical heroic tale.His wife Uma is also featured in today’s production.
Uma is a 24-year-old woman who lives in Dubai, India with her husband Raja (also featured in this production). Much like her husband, Uma has not been active in the theater profession for very long. She landed her first role in 1623 as Hildegund, a late 12th century- early 13th century holy woman who cross-dressed as a monk and documented her travel experiences (Hotchkiss, 33).
In this role, Hildegund decided to join the monastery in 1187 under the name “Joseph” (Hotchkiss, 33). Clothed in men attire, Hildegund ventured all throughout the Middle East and Europe (Hotchkiss, 33). However, soon after she began her life as a monk, Hildegund became ill and died one of the most celebrated monks of the Cistercian abbey of Schöau (Hotchkiss, 33). Hildegund’s true gender was only discovered after her death as she was prepared for burial (Hotchkiss, 33).
Uma looks forward to advancing her acting career and hopes to open up a playhouse with her husband after retirement.
Mei is a 24-year-old woman who lives with her theater troupe in Beijing, China. She has acted since she was eight years old, starting in small school productions and evolving into her current profession as a professional, traveling performer. Throughout her entire 16-year career, Mei’s favorite role is Shang Sanguan, who cross-dresses as the man Li Yu, in the 1656 production of the text-turned-play, “The Revenge of Shang Sanguan” (Doniger, 338).
In this production, Shang Sanguan’s father was murdered, yet neither one of her brothers felt obliged to seek revenge (Doniger, 338). Shang Sanguan took it upon herself to avenge her father’s death and decided to cross-dressed as the male actor, “Li Yu” (Doniger, 339). Under this new alias, she was hired to perform at the murderer’s birthday party (Doniger, 339). Upon arrival, she continually replenished everyone’s wine glass, focusing intently on getting the murderer drunk (Doniger, 339). Later that night, the murderer requested to be alone with Li Yu, drunkenly obsessed with this “male actor” and his radiant beauty (Doniger, 339). However, when the guests returned to the party, all they found was the murderer’s head chopped off and Li Yu hung from the ceiling in an act of suicide (Doniger, 339). Li Yu’s real sex was discovered at her death (Doniger, 339).
Mei enjoys roles that use cross-dressing for dangerous and lethal acts. The character of Shang Sanguan is her favorite because she admires her characters respect for her deceased father and how that justified the act of cross-dressing (Doniger, 339). After her career ends, Mei is determined to become an acting coach in a local Beijing studio in attempts to get more young girls interested in theater.