Chicago Premiere

May 8, 2022 - Jun 18, 2022

This story of the first Chinese woman to arrive in the United States unearths hidden history with humor and insight, asking us to explore the way we consider both ourselves and others.

Brought to the United States at age 14 from China in 1834 by enterprising American merchants, Afong Moy is put on display so the American public can get its first view of an authentic “Chinese Lady.” Over the course of 55 years, she performs an ethnicity that both defines and challenges her own views of herself, as she witnesses stunning transformations in the American identity. As these dual truths become irreconcilable, Afong must reckon with herself and the history of her new home with startling discovery and personal revelations.

During this piercing and darkly poetic portrait of America as seen through the eyes of a young Chinese woman, “this quiet play steadily deepens in complexity,” wrote The New York Times. “By the end of Mr. Suh’s extraordinary play, we look at Afong and see whole centuries of American history. She’s no longer the Chinese lady. She is us.”

The Chinese Lady was available for remote viewing on demand. Access ended on Sunday, June 19 at 11:59pm.

Use Your FlexPass


Production Team


* Member of Actors Equity Association

# Member of United Scenic Artists

~ Member of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society

+ TimeLine Company Member

^ TimeLine Associate Artist

§ TimeLine Playwrights Collective


  • Chicago Tribune

    TimeLine’s production, directed by Helen Young, features a spectacular central performance from [Mi] Kang, still in graduate school at Northwestern University. … I was struck by how well Kang navigated the play’s occupation of the space between determination and tacit sublimation, her attention to the courage and vibrancy of her character as well as the indignity of her situation. This is, for sure, a moralistic play that wants to indict the audience in this particular history, which it does not see as having been subject to much improvement, and it makes a powerful case for that point of view. …[Kang gives] an exceptionally sophisticated performance at the heart of a small, assertive, resonant and moving play.

    —Chris Jones

  • Chicago Sun-Times

    The project of Suh’s multilayered two-hander, then, is to grant [the Chinese Lady] an imagined inner life. …The gorgeously detailed, diorama-like set, designed by Arnel Sancianco, holds a few surprises of its own. …clever, wry, and poetic in her conversation with us; was it the limits of translation or of empathy that flattened white Americans’ perceptions of her into little more than decorative garb and tea sets? …Suh’s script traces a tricky trajectory, but director Helen Young steers this TimeLine Theatre Company production handily around the tonal curves. The play asks a lot of its two actors. Obrero finds impressive nuance in Atung’s shifting feelings for Afong, but the production rests on Kang’s massively charming performance.

    —Kris Vire

  • Third Coast Review

    Kang’s portrayal becomes more intense and tinged with bitterness as Afong Moy speaks of the gold rush and how Chinese men looking for gold were turned into laborers to build the transcontinental railroad. Kang’s performance is brilliant as the character unravels … Obrero gives a taut and nuanced performance as an embittered and aging man with no future once he is no longer needed as a translator. Helen Young’s direction is even and steady as the play subject matter becomes darker and ominous. Arnel Sancianco’s scenic design perfectly showcases a display of Afong and the trappings of tea boxes and vases considered to be exotic. Izumi Inaba’s costume designs are beautiful…

    —Kathy D. Hey

  • Broadway World

    Directed by Helen Young, TimeLine Theatre Company’s Chicago premiere of Lloyd Suh’s THE CHINESE LADY is a poignant and well-crafted playMi Kang beautifully portrays Afong Moy, bringing an immense depth of feeling to the character. She also has a heart wrenching rapport with Atung (Glenn Obrero), her translator. …This layering allows Suh to reinforce questions of agency and identity within the play. Kang and Obrero play off each other beautifully; the connection between the characters feels honest and real. 

    —Rachel Weinberg

  • Let's Play

    TimeLine Theatre has once again brought a spectacular production to the stage. … Mi Kang is so captivating and charming as Afong Moy that you fail to realize she is sitting in an exhibit like a caged animal. … here is nothing irrelevant about his [Glenn’s] performance as Atung, who plays the role to perfection. … Director Helen Young masterfully reels us in like a fish on a hook that is slowly losing its will…

    —Rick McCain

Discussions & Events

  • Audio Described Performance of THE CHINESE LADY
    Friday, June 17 at 8pm


    Read More
  • THE CHINESE LADY: Post-Show Discussions
    Various Dates

    Join us for informal post-show discussions with members of the production team and cast.

    Read More
  • THE CHINESE LADY: Virtual Post-Show Discussions

    Join via Zoom for informal discussions with members of the production team and special guests.

    Read More
  • THE CHINESE LADY: PRE-Show Discussions

    Join us for an informal sneak peek into this production with members of the production team.

    Read More
  • THE CHINESE LADY: Company Member Discussion
    Sunday, June 5 at 3:30pm

    Join us for an informal chat with TimeLine’s Company Members after today’s performance.

    Read More
  • Chinese Captioned Performance of THE CHINESE LADY
    Thursday, June 9 at 7:30pm

    Featuring a text display of the Chinese translation of the words heard during the performance

    Read More
  • Open Captioned Performances of THE CHINESE LADY
    Various Dates

    Featuring a text display of words and sounds heard during the performance.

    Read More
  • THE CHINESE LADY: Virtual Sunday Scholars Panel Discussion
    Sunday, June 12 at 7pm

    A one-hour online panel discussion featuring experts on the themes of the play.

    Read More

THE CHINESE LADY is supported in part by