Beijing Tiananmen Square in 1978.

Play brings forbidden story of Tiananmen Square massacre to London stage

A UK-based Hong Kong theatre company Stage June Fourth presenedt the award-winning play May 35th, telling a story banned by the Chinese government.

Based on interviews and real-life stories of parents whose children were killed in the Tiananmen Square massacre, the play showcased the story of the event which marked its 35th anniversary on 4 June since 1989. 

The play tells the story of an elderly couple whose son was killed on 4 June 1989 in Tiananmen Square and their dying wish to hold a proper ritual for him in the same place where he was murdered by the state.

As the term June 4th is banned online by authorities in China and now Hong Kong, internet users refer to the massacre as May 35th, which adds the same days as 4 June.

The play by playwright Candace Chong Mui Ngam was last performed in Hong Kong in 2020 before the National Security Law was introduced to the city.

Ming Wai Lit, producer and Stage June Fourth Founder, said he wass eager to present May 35th to English-speaking audiences in London. 

He said: “Banned in Hong Kong, preserving it overseas acts as a significant platform for preserving historical truth and amplifying voices that were silenced. 

“Our aim is to inspire dialogue and reflection on themes of freedom and resilience. 

“We share the ambition to give a voice to the silenced voices of the Tiananmen Mothers, this production underscores our commitment to storytelling that resonates deeply and fosters meaningful change.”

Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty International UK’s Chief Executive, said: “This play is a powerful reminder of the human stories and suffering behind the Chinese government’s brutal crackdown in 1989.

“It is crucial we continue to mark this important anniversary in the UK and elsewhere so the Chinese authorities’ efforts to obliterate it from history are not allowed to succeed. 

“The Government must end its climate of fear which gags people in China and Hong Kong and denies them their right to protest and speak freely.”

Stage June Fourth, the theatre company, presened the show supported by Amnesty International UK at Southwark Playhouse Elephant from 29 May to 1 June. 

Featured image credit: Wikimedia Commons licenced under Creative Commons

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