I've been scouring Leeds Libraries' collection of historical theatre playbills for mention of Chinese performers and culture. So far, I've concentrated on the 19th and early 20th century - from the stage's earliest melodramas, through the knockabout era of Victorian music hall, into the heyday of local pantomime. There's loads more research needed to find out how authentic these productions could claim to be (and I'm new to the subject) but it's a hugely interesting topic, characterised by a mixture of stock stereotypes and genuine curiosity about the world beyond Yorkshire. View the original playbills at: www.leodis.net/playbills
The golden age of Leeds panto in the late 18th/early 19th centuries saw productions that mixed extremely elaborate sets and costumes with bawdy humour and copious local in-jokes. The comedic tone extended to making fun of other cultures, including the Chinese in this version of Aladdin (the script of which is held by Local and Family History at Leeds Central Library).