A fourteen-year-old Chinese girl came to America 190 years ago – said to be the first female Chinese immigrant to set foot here during the 1800s. Now, a play, “The Chinese Lady” premiering at the Tipping Point Theatre in Northville this week and running through March 3, recounts the remarkable life of Afong Moy and her Chinese servant Atung. 

Afong’s journey to America is not well known. Much of her story has been lost with time. But “The Chinese Lady” playwright Lloyd Suh brought Afong back to life on stage. The two-person show first premiered in 2018, and this is the production’s first stage appearance in Michigan.  


The show is directed by Jasmine Rivera, starring Michigan native Josie Mi as Afong Moy and Don Castro as Atung. Tipping Point Theatre Artistic Director Julia Glander made space on her schedule in Northville after seeing it performed in Chicago. Mi and Castro now live in New York while Rivera lives here in Southeast Michigan. 

One Detroit senior producer Bill Kubota visited the Tipping Point Theatre for its first dress rehearsal of the show. He talks with Mi and Castro about the real-life stories behind the characters they’re portraying on stage and what they tell us about past and present American society.

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