An all Asian cast brings to life a deeply moving tale of a young gay couple trying to survive the Tiananmen Square crackdown.
The Players Theatre and spit&vigor is presenting TIANANMEN REQUIEM, running March 10 – 27, at The Players Theatre, 115 MacDougal St, NYC, co-produced by spit&vigor is already the subject of controversy. An all Asian cast brings to life a deeply moving tale of a young gay couple trying to survive the Tiananmen Square crackdown and how their daughter – more than a decade later – is attempting to uncover one of her parents’ secret ties to the Chinese military during the massacre. This tragic love story set against the backdrop of the Tiananmen Square Massacre displays the brutality of this terrible moment in history.
“I hope to show how gay rights — and all human rights — are so important and so limited in China, especially at this pivotal time,” says the author of the play.
NOTE: The playwright’s family left China because of religious repression. The playwright himself could not leave the country as a child because of the Tiananmen Square Massacre.
Is this your first play?
It is my first play to be staged, and it was written bilingually.
Can you share with us what happened in your life to make you want to write this play?
My family left China because of religious repression. My parents and my grandparents are Christians, and both of my grandfathers went to prison because of their religion. My parents left China on student visas to Germany, and in the summer of 1989, when I was a little child, my paternal grandfather planned to get me out of China so I could be reunited with my parents. But in the early summer of 1989, the Tiananmen Square massacre occurred, preventing us from leaving the country. My uncle who was a student at the time was actually in Tiananmen three days after the massacre and witnessed the aftermath. So this event has been part of our family’s consciousness.
Your play involves a gay couple. Do you think that punctuates the overall message more?
A Chinese dissident who lived through Tiananmen and is the play’s historical consultant told me that a gay relationship would have been absolutely taboo at the time of the Tiananmen Square Massacre. You see, not only is the story about a gay couple, it’s a story about a gay soldier and gay student couple. I hope to make a statement and shine a light on gay rights in China.
Is your family supportive of it.. even in secret?
They are very. My uncle was the first reader of the bilingual version of the play. The play is dedicated to him.
What have you learned about yourself in writing this play?
That it takes courage to make art, especially writing a play that would be absolutely forbidden in China, and that can cause tremendous damage to my family.
Did the creation of a dredge up strong memories.. good, bad, etc? What does the future hold for you?
My most vivid memory of the Tiananmen Square Crackdown is the propaganda image of a school girl feeding wontons to a soldier armed to the teeth, standing in Tiananmen. This image makes me wake up at night. I reused it in a modified form in one of the scenes.
Read more about this play and the author in Art Indepeendent