The chinese theatre plays with the limits of censorship

Le théâtre chinois joue avec les limites de la censure

The last piece of Wang Chong, a denunciation of the video surveillance is pervasive in China, has been interpreted in the open air during the theatre Festival in Wuzhen.

17 December 2019 18h20

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The chinese theatre plays with the limits of censorship

AFP

Agence France-Presse

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WUZHEN — The actress mime a gun with his hand, referred to a surveillance camera imagination, and then draws : in China, the theatre directors are trying to push the limits of censorship with new innovative.

Many work independently of the show rooms as usual, in public places, art galleries, museums, cafes… where the authorities are less cautious on the content.

“In China, having a rebellious spirit can be dangerous. If an artist gets in trouble, then everybody is going to cut ties with him,” says one of them, Wang Chong, in order to justify this strategy.

He trusts in the margins of the theatre Festival in Wuzhen (is), an appointment deemed to be held in this city located 100 km south-west of Shanghai and known for its old canals.

For directors, play outside theatres in hard allows you to avoid time-consuming requests for approval of scripts by the services of censorship.

Many theaters in China, offering modern and contemporary plays, including many western authors. The stories from the imperial era and the epic communist, however, are still legion.

For all that, “if one wants to raise issues with profound social, we always find a way around the rules,” says Wang Chong. His latest play, a denunciation of the surveillance ubiquitous in the country, has been interpreted in an open-air Wuzhen during the festival.

Special feature : the actors have been chosen at random from the public. All the dialogues have been blown via headphones.

Glass ceiling

But Wang Chong has not always been such a success.

Some of his works have been banned, one of them in 2016 on the writer and revolutionary Lu Xun (1881-1936), which dealt with sensitive subjects. Performed in theatres, it had been suddenly pulled from the schedule.

He describes this loss as symptomatic of a “glass ceiling” faced by the productions of the avant-garde.

This experience has pushed to occur in places less formal, as in 2017, in the classroom of a college in peking, with the modern adaptation of a piece from the classical repertoire.

Wang Boxin, 34 years old, founder of a theatre troupe in Shanghai, uses satire and black humour in its productions, who intend to denounce the “moral values in decline” in contemporary China.

His latest play, presented in Wuzhen, has been inspired by the detention this year of a young cartoonist on charges of “insulting the chinese people” for the drawings representing his countrymen in pigs, gluttons.

The comic play was performed by actors wearing animal heads. “As long as we do not sell tickets, we don’t request for a license and can keep his artistic freedom,” says Wang Boxin.

In spite of everything, the censorship remains a problem, writes Wang Chong.

The authorities want the theatre to become an industry like Broadway, it generates money like the film”, while being “strictly under control”, summarizes-t-it.

He reserves his productions the most subversive abroad. The next year, it will launch as well a in Australia, of which he is the sole actor. The theme : censorship. “My old dream, it is that the system of censorship of the theatre disappears. If it is true, then my piece will have accomplished its mission.”

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