Friday, June 05, 2009

Tiananmen Square - 20 years ago

If you've been following this blog for a while (and yes, some people actually do), then you may remember that I first visited China in 2005, beginning the preparations for Dis-Orientations, and so, by implication, for the Trilogy. Back then, I was very struck by the way in which the 1989 events in Tiananmen Square had been wiped out of popular consciousness. Click here for that memory.

Not much has changed since, it seems. On the 20th anniversary, while Hong Kong held a huge vigil, the square itself was surrounded by police, and nobody was able to enter. The firewalls went up very high - nobody was Twittering about this in China. And this ongoing silence, this refusal to acknowledge so drastic a moment in recent history, makes the ghosts more hungry than ever.

Dis-Orientations refers to the killings - albeit rather obliquely. My hope is that this will get it past the censors, on the grounds that if you don't know what the characters are talking about, then this won't tell you. We now know that we will be performing these plays in China next year, so I'm feeling very aware of the complexities and responsibilities of our position as cultural ambassadors, especially in the thick of all the current news coverage of the anniversary. So far, none of our Chinese colleagues has even mentioned this scene as potentially sensitive; though they have certainly talked about the Cultural Revolution (which everybody is concerned about) and homosexuality (which bothers lots of people but not the Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre). It may be that this is part of the silence. We must simply wait and see.

And not forget.

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