China ComingOUT – Creative Writing for LGBTQ Youth


China ComingOUT is a creative writing workshop dedicated to LGBTQ+ youths. The workshop combines writing and performing in a wholesome way, to empower young people from the Chinese LGBTQ community by using theatrical dramaturgy as a core method. Each workshop lasts for 4, intensive days, and includes lectures on storytelling, dramaturgical techniques, writing sessions, and voice- and physical training. The main goal is to support the LGBTQ community to be heard by the society through artistic tools. The program is curated by Ibsen International in collaboration with Queer University (Beijing).

SESSION 1: 31st-Feb. 4th, 2018 @ Destination/Beijing Gender BEIJING
SESSION 2*: May 23rd-May 26th, 2018 @ Zizai Studio, Shanghai
* Part of ShanghaiPRIDE 2018



Hege Randi Tørressen is a Norwegian theatre practitioner based in Oslo. She studied at the Ludwig-Maximilian-University in Munich, where she received a master’s degree in theatre and literature. During more than 25 years, she has worked on more than 100 theatre productions in Norwegian, German, English and Chinese language. For the last 17 years she has worked as dramaturge at the National Theatre (Nationaltheatret) in Oslo. She is a consultant for “International Ibsen Festival”  and has been a jury member of the Norwegian Ibsen Prize for 7 years.

Fabrizio Massini received an MA in Chinese Theatre and Film from the University of London (SOAS), furthered his studies with a research residency at the Central Academy of Drama in Beijing. Based in China since 2009, Fabrizio worked as artistic consultant and producer for several institutions including Wuzhen Theatre Festival, Guangzhou Dance Festival, Beijing Theatre Olympics and others. He gave guest lecturesat the Danish National School of Performing Arts, National Theatre Company of China, Macau Contemporary Dance Festivals and others. Current artistic director of Ibsen International (Norway/China), Fabrizio curated projects connecting dramaturges from Norway, Denmark, Germany and Slovenia with Chinese practitioners.

Wei Jiangang was born and raised in Xinjiang, China. He was trained as an actor at the drama department of the Xinjiang Arts Institute in Urumqi and at the Shanghai Drama Academy. Having a passion for community work and a drive to contribute to social change, he has continually searched for meaningful ways to share his drama skills with others and to use them in socially relevant ways. During recent years he started to engage himself on the production side of various film- and other productions benefiting different social movements in China. In 2007, he founded the LGBT webcast “Queer Comrades”, for which he hosted and directed more than 50 half-hour episodes. Since 2010, he’s the executive director of the NGO Beijing Gender which houses the webcast Queer Comrades.  Founded in 2002, it constitutes one of the first Chinese NGOs to focus on issues of gender, sexuality and sexual health, thus fulfilling a pioneering role in Chinese society.



Queer University was founded in 2012, it is a 7-day training workshop organized annually in order to help LGBTQ community to use camera as a tool to extend their voices, the workshop includes trainings on film editing, cutting and on-site operation, encouraging trainees to document stories happening around LGBTQ community and to lead with social advocacy. The program also funds outstanding trainees with one-year long documentary film project, so to realize their dreams of artistic creation, meanwhile hoping to start out with more diversified artistic creation trainings for a more culturally and socially plural platform.

Shanghai Pride began in 2009 and is an annual festival that celebrates diversity. Organized entirely by volunteers with the support of media, businesses, individuals, and foreign consulates. Aim to raise awareness and visibility, and to promote self-acceptance and acceptance for the LGBTQ community through sports, cultural, and social activities. Encourage the community and partners to support LGBTQ-related projects and initiatives. Grown from eight organizers and a modest gathering of 3,000 attendees in 2009, to 30 organizers and 6,500 attendees in 2017 with over 30 different sports, social, and cultural events.

ZHITONG LGBT: We grounded ourselves in the community, advocating the equality of LGBTI and gender diversity into public services. We innovated gay-friendly clinic in Guangdong and in Xi’an. Meanwhile, we promote and push the collaboration with governemntal and education department for health and education program, among which we have Peers Out-extending Education, Gender/Medical Community Worker, Gender-Friendly Clinic, Anti-discrimination Campaign etc.. We provide non-profit services for tens of thousands of people annually.


Web Traffic A Multimedia Dance Theatre

Jan.5-7th, 2018

Shanghai International Dance Center 

Duration : 60 min 

Creative Team: 

Concept: Jiang Fan, Zhuang Jiayun 

Playwright, Dramaturge: Zhuang Jiayun 

Choreographer: Jiang Fan

Music Design: A Ming

Light Design/Stage Design:  Edwin van Steenbergen 

Visual Design: Yao (爻) Multi-media Studio 

Costume Design: Xu Congting 

Performers: Jiang Fan, Edwin van Steenbergen, A Ming 

Technician: Xu Xiangen

Stage Manager: Cai Siqi

Graphic Design: Pang Zhengye

Promotion: Li Nuoya, Han Chenyi 

Photography: Yin Xuefeng, Huang Zhihao, Yang Yang

Video Documentary: Li Xinmin, Zou Xueping, Huang Zhihao

Commissioned by Shanghai International Dance Center with the support from Ibsen International. 


Web Traffic cuts in the topic with the popularized symbol of online live streaming female host, in the form of multi-media and dancing theatre, with the aid of live broadcasting, touching the live streaming economy and its presentation mechanism. It also presents, through this interchangeable sub-cultural ecology and during the process of self realization of belonging and social-value, the parties of the seen and the seeing who are both sandwiched between reality and illusion.

In Web Traffic, the hostess Liu Xiaoliang and her team have struggled in the chain of live streaming industry under the fierce reshuffling pressure. The supervision system is raising the bar of censorship, commercial platform is hardening rules towards continuous live streaming, audiences are asking for upgraded interactive experiences——Liu Xiaoliang and her team are searching for rules to gain upper-hand in this game, in other words, searching for oneself.

Contextualizing Dance Dramaturgy – Workshop Series

Curated by: Thomas Shaupp, Fabrizio Massini
Produced by: Ibsen International
Supported by:
Goethe Institut China (Beijing session) (December 22nd, 2017)
ErGao Performance Workshop (Guangzhou session) (December, 25th, 2017)
We Festival of Future (Shanghai Session) (December, 30th, 2017)
Photo credit: Ruqing Xu

Dramaturgy is a relatively new profession in the dance-field, especially in modern and contemporary dance and physically-based performance practices. As a notion, Dramaturgy can be defined as “the evolution of ideas through time” and “the compositional, cohesive, or sense-making aspects of a performance”. Dramaturgy can also be understood as a collaborative practice connecting art world and society, or translating the art work for its audience. The dramaturge, acting as an “outside eye”, assists the choreographers in building up the journey of a dance work by questioning, contextualizing and observing.

Between December 20 and January 4, dance dramaturg Thomas Shaupp and Ibsen International’s artistic director Fabrizio Massini will travel to Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai to meet local dance artists. In each city we will also organize theoretical-practical Workshop sessions to discuss and share concepts of Dramaturgy, both historical and contemporary, and their relevance within the dance field. Through simple exercises we will introduce different dramaturgical methods that can be adopted to different creative processes. By sharing and discussing experiences and methods with local practitioners, we will pay special attention to comparing the European and Chinese scenes, to identify commonalities and differences.


Guangzhou session

Some of our leading questions are: how to contextualize oneself (as an artist, choreographer, dancer) in a cultural environment? How to articulate one’s intentions (to curators, the audience, one’s team etc) precisely?

Guangzhou Session

The emerging findings will be a starting point for the development of the program “Dance Dramaturgy in China” in the coming year(s).

Shanghai Session 




Thomas Schaupp, Berlin, studied theatre- and dance-theory at Freie Universität Berlin. As a dance-dramaturge he is collaborating with several choreographers, currently with Kat Válastur, Anne-Mareike Hess, Stian Danielsen as well as for the festival “Tanztage Berlin”. As a lecturer and critic he has been invited to festivals and conferences across Europe and Canada. In the season 2014/15 he was resident critic at ada-studio Berlin. Thomas is a guest-teacher at the Inter-University Centre for Dance in Berlin and facilitates workshops on dance-dramaturgy and the dramaturgical in choreographic centres across Europe. In 2017, he is co-curating the conference “Lab:Dance – (Dance)Dramaturgy as a collaborative practice”, in collaboration with the festival “CPH Stage” in Copenhagen.

Fabrizio Massini studied Chinese at the University of Florence and University of London (SOAS), furthering his studies on Chinese theatre at the Central Academy of Drama in Beijing. Based in China since 2009, Fabrizio is active as performing arts producer, curator and dramaturg. Fabrizio collaborated with several European and Chinese organizations including Beijing Fringe Festival, Wuzhen Theatre Festival, Guangzhou Dance Festival, Odin Teatret (Denmark), Centrale Fies (Italy). Since 2016 Fabrizio is Artistic Director at Ibsen International (Norway) where he curates and manages the Ibsen in China program. Fabrizio also regularly works as artistic consultant; he gave guest lectures at institutions including the Danish National School of Performing Arts, National Theatre Company of China, Shanghai Theatre Academy and others.


Frozen Songs Premiere at The Arctic Theatre


Deep within the cold and dark inside Svalbard Global Seed Vault, the origin of life is being stored.  Under the direction of the UN, the world’s future is kept here. This scenario forms the backdrop of the production Frozen Songs by celebrated Norwegian choreographer Ina Christel Johannessen. Joining her are dancers from her ensemble Zero Visibility Corp, the Chinese video artists Feng Jiangzhou og Zhang Lin and Belgian musical duo Stray Dogs. In this performance Norwegian and international artists come together on stage to create a unique artistic experience centred around one very important and current question: Survival.



Choreographer:Ina Christel Johannessen

As a sought-after choreographer Ina has been invited to created works for international companies and institutions. Among them are Helsinki City Dance Company, The Royal Swedish Opera, Scottish Dance Theatre, The National Theatres in Oslo and Bergen, Dance and Theatre Academy of Helsinki, Les Ballet de Monte Carlo, CCDC Hong Kong, Cullberg Ballet, The Norwegian Opera & Ballet and Gothenburg Opera Dance Company. Her collaboration with CCDC, dance company from Hong Kong founded by Willie Tsao, and Ibsen International, resulted in “Hedvig from the Wild Duck”, performance that successfully toured Hong Kong, mainland China and was highly acclaimed at the Ibsen Festival 2014 in Oslo.

Multimedia Artists: Sifenlv Multimedia Studio

Sifenlv New Media Studio concentrates on the production of contemporary Performing Art works. The Studio is recognised for its ground breaking projects within electronic music, dance, performance, opera and installation art, and through its productions it has developed a new aesthetic way of thinking interactive art in China. The studio serves as an innovative laboratory where programmers, performance artists and audio visual artists in unison develop software and artistic creations. Sifenlv New Media Studio has released one performing art piece every year since it is established in 2008. The performing workSpring Wind (2007),  Floating City, Fleeting Life (2008),  Reading-Mistake Series (2009-2010),  The Imperial Harem (2011) , Micro-Connection (2012),  Magic City (2013) are crowned as the  most avant-garde contemporary performing works which were invited to Kassell China public art exhibition, Berlin Festival in Germany, Milano Triennale Design Museum in Italy, Avignon Festival in France and UCCA in China. With the often great and spectacular productions the studio has put a focus on the use of new media in art, just as the projects have opened up to the possibility of a cross-aesthetic cooperation between traditional and modern performance art in China.


Choreography Ina Christel Johannessen

Multimedia Feng Jiangzhou, Zhang Lin Sifenlv New Media, Beijing

Music Frederik Meulyzer and Koenraad Ecker, Stray Dogs

Scenography Kristin Torp/Graa Hverdag AS

Costume design Kathrine Tolo, Norsk Kunststoff AS

Light Design Nico Benz

Dancers Line Tørmoen, Pia Elton Hammer, Ole Kristian Tangen, Valtteri Raekallio, Daniel Whiley, Fan Luo, Anton Borgstrøm

Text Oda Fiskum

Singer Aksel Rykkvin

Photographer film sequence/photos Yaniv Cohen


Video technique Magnar Mork

Sound Morten Pettersen


Executive producer Kirsti Ulvestad

Production team Kirsti Ulvestad, Inger Buresund and Fabrizio Massini

Original idea Inger Buresund, Artistic director, The Arctic Theatre


Production management Kirsti Ulvestad, zero visibility corp


Produced by Zero Visibility Corp, The Arctic Theatre, Ibsen International

Co-produced by Dansens Hus, Oslo, La Briqueterie, Paris, Arts Printing House, Vilnius

The Returning/ Winterreise with Chinese Cast Premiere in Shanghai

Voices from the North – Norwegian Contemporary Playwriting Series


Venue, Date and Time:

Shanghai Huangpu Theatre, July 21-23 19:30

Beijing Penghao Theatre, July 28 19:30; July 29 14:30 and 19:30

Producer: Ibsen International

Co-Producer: SHNU International Theatre Workshop

Original production by Divine Comédie (France)

Supported by: Huangpu Theatre (Shanghai) and NLGX Theatre Festival (Beijing)

Director: Jean Christophe.Blondel (Divine Comédie)

Playwright: Fredrik Brattberg



Xu Kun – Father (The Returning)

Wang Hong – Mother (The Returning)

Dong Xiangyu – Gustav (The Returning)

Dong Xiangyu – Alred (Winterreise)

Gao Xiaoyan – Anne (Winterreise)

Liu Yutong – Hilde (Winterreise)


This play collide The Returning and Winterreise by Norwegian writer Frederick Brattberg (winner of Ibsen Award 2012) directed by French renowned theatre director Jean-Christophe Blondel (Divine Comédie) . The Returning is about a couple repairing their lives after their son is killed in an avalanche, until they hear a knock at the door and the inconceivable occurs. Winterreise tells the story of a couple returning from the hospital with their newborn baby trying to cope with an incredible change in their life.


Playwright: Fredrik Brattberg

In 2012, Fredrik Brattberg was awarded the prestigious Norwegian Ibsen Award for his play Tilbakekomstene (The Returning). Brattberg’s plays have been translated into eleven languages and published in Netherlands, Astonia, Hungary, Czech Republic and Norway. His plays are frequently produced in festivals and theatres in Europe, America and Canada. Along his role as a renowned playwright, Brattberg is also an excellent classical musician and he has created more than 40 musical pieces. His representative works include Tilbakekomstene, Winterreise, et banker, Amadeus.


Director: Jean Christophe.Blondel

Since 2006, Blondel has developed a work of theatrical creation based on three main principles: Exploring a classic and contemporary repertory; a focus on how the works resonate with the issues of our time, socio-political (inter) cultural, philosophical and spiritual; bring together artists possessing a strong identity, all bearing a strong sense of drama, but speaking in remote areas:  acting, choreography, improvised music, puppetry. Divine Comedy is subsidized by the Ministry of Culture, local communities that it belongs, the city of Rouen, and several civil societies (JTN, Adami, ODIA, SPEDIDAM, etc ). In China, it is supported by the French institute, Embassies, Consulates and private companies (EDF, France Telecom), Chinese partners (universities, theatre academies). His works, including Partage de Midiby Claudel, Princess Maleineby Maeterlinck and Pommera, have toured around China.



Lighting designer: Marco Benigno

Lighting operator: He Yiyi, Zhou Yuqi (Shanghai)

Hou Zhengya (Beijing)

Set designer: Margueritte Rousseau

Stage Manager: Zhang Yongyue

Producer: Fabrizio Massini, Ivan Ruviditch

Executive Producer: Shiya Lu

Production Assistant: Zhang Wenwei

Interpreter:Tang Jie, Dai Linke

New Text New Stage II Chinese/American Production Coming Up

New Text New Stage II — Zhu Yi’s A DEAL Coming up with both Chinese Production and American Production.

I am a warrior, so that my son may be a shop keeper,  so that his son may be a poet.  

― John Quincy Adams

A Deal produced by UrbanStages

A Deal produced by Nanjing University



Like many new upper-middle-class Chinese families, Mr. and Mrs. Li are proud to give their only daughter a life they could only dream of (an Ivy League degree in art and an apartment in Manhattan), until they realize she’s turning into a dangerous stranger.

A DEAL is a dark comedy that features a Chinese family’s home buying journey in New York in winter 2015, a time of increased real estate property ownership by overseas Chinese and a sharp decline in the value of the Chinese yuan against the US dollar. It reveals the ideological conflicts between the East and the West in contemporary society by tracking a little stream of the global cash flow.


ZHU YI is a New York-based playwright and screenwriter, born and raised in China. She received her MFA in playwriting from Columbia University. She received Shanghai Drama Valley’s 2015 Outstanding Playwright of the Year Award. She is a 2012-2013 Emerging Artist Fellow at New York Theatre Workshop, a Youngblood Writer at Ensemble Studio Theatre, a member of Dramatists Guild of America, a member of Chinese Pioneering Filmmakers Association, and an adjunct lecturer at Nanjing University, China.



New Text New Stage II Tatarstan Production Premiere

New Text · New Stage II ——Tatarstan Production “ALIEN” Premiere

Would the hero return to his homeland? Would he meet with first love? Would he visit his mother’s grave?

Premiere on 14th of October, 2017 at Galiaskar Kamal Tatar National Academic Theatre


After the fall of the Iron Curtain and the collapse of the USSR, the peoples of the former autonomous republics started to look into the blank pages of their history. One of these sad topics for Tatars, the second largest nation of Russia, was the fate of the captured Second World War soldiers and officers who refused to cross over to the side of fascist Germany and passed all the hardships of Hitler’s concentration camps, and after the collapse of the Third Reich became prisoners of the Stalin’s GULAG. Those of them who were lucky enough to return home in the fifties, only recently received the status of participants of the Second World War. However, there were some of them who, sensing a new arrest, did not return to their homeland and scattered all over the world…


Naqip, the main character of the play, after the war stayed in Canada by the will of fate and started his life with a clean slate. In a small town in the Canadian outback, he arranged a kind of a Tatar village, started growing potatoes, and instead of Halloween, celebrated Tatar Sabantuy festival. He called his wife “Zhanym” (“my soul”) in the Tatar manner, and not Joanna. Once his neighbor Samuel, an “alien” just like him, only with Scottish roots, brought the news that from now on all former Soviet citizens were allowed to return to the USSR, they were not in danger anymore. Would the hero return to his homeland? Would he meet with first love? Would he visit his mother’s grave?


Director, Musical design:  Farid Bikchantaev

Production designer :  Albert Nesterov

Managing Director of the Theatre:     Ilfir Yakupov

Director’s Assistant: Ruzilia Akhmetova

Photographer: Foat Garifullin


Naqip:             Radik Bariev

Naqip in youth:    Rail Shamsuarov

Joanna:             Lyutsiya Bikchantaeva

Samuel/Sergeant :       Minvali Gabdullin

Zeytuneh/Mariambikeh:  Aigul Abasheva

Khairullah/Head of the concentration camp:   Ilnur Zakirov

Captive/Military in the cafe:   Ilnur Zakirov

Hismatulla:    Almaz Sabirzyanov


I Disappear Stage Reading in Penghao Theatre Beijing

Voices from the North – Norwegian Contemporary Playwriting Series

Nothing Else. No home and no country and no history.

Language: Chinese

Producer: Ibsen International

Co-Producer: Penghao Theater, The 8th Nanluoguxiang Performing Arts Festival

Venue, Date and Time: Beijing Penghao Theatre, July 26 14:30 and 19:30


I Disappear by Arne Lygre won The Norwegian Ibsen Award 2013. With I Disappear Arne Lygre ensures his position as one of our most interesting playwrights.

Two women, Me and My friend, must hastily leave their country. Little will be said of the political background. For Lygre’s favourite subject is the fragility of the Self one is creating – precarious, worn down by buried memories, haunted by other possible lives. In order to ward off what is threatening them, all along their flight, Me and My friend invent strange role plays. Lygre’s playful and compelling writing tirelessly interlinks urgent situations with phantasmagorical scenarios.

“I disappear by Arne Lygre moves through a dark landscape with a female I, her girlfriend, daughter and husband. The world described is uncertain bordering the threatening. The woman is caught in a life situation, an existential crisis, she is reflecting upon. Arne Lygre uses different narrative perspectives in his examination of our time’s constant staging of one’s own identity. The form mirrors the content in an elegant, suggestive and intellectual way. The text is open as well as mysterious with many changing landscapes.


Director: Victoria Meirik

Victoria Meirik has her background from Amsterdam Hogeschool voor de Kunsten in directing. She has been nominated for many of her productions and awarded the Hedda prize for best directing for Antigone by Sophocles. She has worked in Denmark, The Netherlands, Czeckia and China. Her last production was The Glassmenagie by Tenesse Williams. She is also associate professor by the Norwegian Theatre Academy and the artistic leader of the Norwegian Dramatic Festival in Oslo.


Playwright: Arne Lygre

Arne Lygre (born 6th, February of 1968) is a Norwegian novelist and playwright. From 2014 to 2016 he is the in-house playwright at the National Theatre Oslo. Arne Lygre made his debut in 1998 with the play Mother and Me and Men. Since then he has written six other plays, which has been staged and published in countries around the world.  Man Without Purpose was directed by Claude Régy at Odeon Théâtre in Paris in 2007/08. Arne Lygre wrote his first short stories collection in 2004, In Time, for which he got the prestigious Norwegian literary award Brage Prize. His most recent play, Nothing of Me, had its world premiere at Stadsteatern Stockholm in April 2014, receiving a four star review from The Guardian.




Li Zheng –I

Wen Xiaoying – My Friend

Wang Xiaohuan – My Friend’s Daughter and A Female Stranger

Zhang Xiaochen – My Husband

Lighting operator: Dong Zhaomeng

Graphic Design: Dynamic Wang

Script Translator:Yang Zhiyan

Photographer: Qi Rui

Producer: Fabrizio Massini

Series Coordinator: Shiya Lu

Executive Producer:Jennifer Zhang


Let You Be Premiere in Beijing Fringe Festival 2017

Voices from the North – Norwegian Contemporary Playwriting Series

Who will be there when everything falls apart?

Producer: Ibsen International

Co-Producer: Free Theatre Alliance

Supported by: Beijing International Fringe Festival

Language: Chinese

Beijing Qinglan Theatre, 25th -26th September 19:30

Small Theatre of Zhejiang Province Cultural Center, 28th September 19:30

Beijing Penghao Theatre, The 9th Nanluoguxiang Performing Arts Festival 26th-27th July, 19:30 


An intimate and unrefined work about loneliness and sense of belonging. It is a warm summer night, and a group of boys drink beer and go for a swim. Two people come walking by. Everything goes wrong. Everybody involved needs someone with whom to share the incident. Someone to blame. They search for security, while life is destroyed. Who have you been, and who will you be when everything is turned upside down?

In the performance La deg være (Let you be) this and other stories are told through the characters Person, Friend, Acquaintance, Stranger and Enemy. Every story and every encounter is connected, and the result is a tale about loneliness, severance, a sense of belonging and who we are to each other. But this is also a story about hope, mercy and love – and about who is by our side when the Earth shatters.

Words from Director

La deg være (Let you be) is norwegian Arne Lygres latest play. Let you be consists of a flow of multiple stories, the human condition on its must vulnerable is in focus. With strong existential drive Lygre‘s universe shows life’s many dualities. The balance and interaction is always between good intentions and fatal outcome. Let you be is a thouching and brutal look into life as it occurs both as fiction and in real.


Director: Jon Tombre

Jon Tombre was educated in Paris and Oslo with more than 60 performing arts productions. His main focus is contemporary theatre, he has staged a wide range of international and Norwegian contemporary writers as Jon Foss, Sam Sheppard, David Harrower, the Presnyakov brothers and Günter Grass . His performances are dedicated to experimentation and exploration of the fine boarders between theater, dance, visual arts and music. Jon Tombre has carved a niche for himself in the world of explorative theatre. He has several times been nominated to the Norwegian Hedda Prize and in 2014 and 2016 he was acclaimed with the Critics prize of Norway.


Playwright: Arne Lygre

Playwright and novelist Arne Lygre, born in Bergen in 1968, began to write drama at the age of 25. Af of now, he has written 8 stage scripts, 2 novels, and has become one of the most renown and performed Norwegian authors internationally. His work was staged in Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Brazil, Estonia, Portugal, France, Italy, United Kingdrom and translated in many other languages. In 2013, he won the prestigious Ibsen Prize for his play “I Disappear”. From 2014 to 2016, he was in-house playwright at Oslo’s National Theatre.


Performers:Xiaojing Chang, Jialong Li, Hailin Wang, Xin Xu, Kan Zhou,

Translator: Wenyan Zou

Stage design: Jon Tombre

Technical Director: Qixu Wang

Costumes: Lin Song

Design: Yuanqing Wang, Jianshi Zhang

Photographer: Da Sheng, Chi Shuai

Executive Producer (Ibsen Intenational): Xiaobin Li, Jennifer Zhang

Producer (Free Theatre Alliance): Yangyang Sun, Wei Diao

Producer (Ibsen Intenational): Fabrizio Massini

When Swallows Cry South African premiere

Mike Van Graan, one of the leading contemporary playwrights in South Africa, was a participant of Ibsen International’s Next Text-New Stage project.


Photo by Suzy Berstein 

Over a period of nine months in 2015, Van Graan and other seven playwrights from around the world developed their respective scripts during three organized workshops in China.

The completed production of When Swallows Cry, written by Mike Van Graan during this project made its South African premiere at the Market Theatre in January 2017. This latest work delves into the uncomfortable but topical issue of ‘foreigners’ and the global migration crisis – a Somali attempting to enter the United States legally; Zimbabwean refugees seeking asylum in Australia; and an American Aid worker held for ransom by Boko Haram affiliates in Kenya.

This play sees overwhelmingly positive reviews from multiple critiques. The following excepts from these reviews added resonance at the current time of rising xenophobic rhetoric and hate crimes across the United States and Europe.

“There is a desperate need, in my view,” Van Graan said during the interview for Scènes Critiques December Issue 2016, “for alternative theatre structures to emerge that recognize the inter-relatedness of privilege and exploitation, inclusion and exclusion, haves and have-nots, and that seek to address these as theatre-makers, as active global citizens and as human beings.”…/theatre-can-play-a-more-p…/ )

“Broken values, smashed dreams and theatre with devastating balance”
Published on Jan 18 2017, written by Robyn Sassen…/when-swallows-cry

Seldom do you get to feel privileged enough to experience a play with not only electric relevance to the brokenness of our current global society, but one which also brings together such a rich collaboration of skills that it shines from every direction.

When Swallows Cry aims high
Published on Jan 16 2017, written by Jennifer de Klerk

Most powerful, in my view, is the angry half-mad Kenyan commandant, raging about slavery, the sins of the past, a greedy, corrupt government and the exploitation of resources that still denies locals hope and a future. Not easy to examine such a complex topic in a play. Van Graan succeeds in what was surely his intention – turning numbers into people.

When Swallows Cry – a crying shame
Published on Jan 19 2017, written by Lesley Stones
The script delivers a lot of truths without moralising or preaching, and it’s riddled with humour and a tangible humanity.


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