About My Parents and Their Child

23 JULY 2016, 14:30 – 24 JULY 2016, 19:30. Gulou West Theatre, Beijing
7th Nanluoguxiang Performing Arts Festival 2016

239 December 2017, 19:30-10 December 2017, 14:00. 1933 Micro Theatre
13th Shanghai International Theatre Festival

“About My Parents and Their Child” is a documentary-theater work about the relationship between parents and children in China, its dynamics, tensions, mutual expectations. Commissioned by Ibsen International, the project departs from interviews made in five cities across China with young people (aging 21-38) and their parents. The project attempts, through an in-depth dialogue with parents and children, to find out the changes underwent by the institution of family throughout the span of 2 generations. How are “family values” changing, and why? Is having a child still the ultimate life-fulfilling purpose? How is modernization changing Chinese society, and what’s the residual influence of tradition?


Creative Team

Director: Matthias Jochmann
Performers: Zou Xueping, Wang Hailin, Hio Meilou, Zhang Jiahuai, Zhu Sujie
Director Assistant: Liu Xuemeng
Dramaturge: Vilma Štritof
Video Interview: Fan Popo,Zou Xueping
Light Design: Su Peng, Dong Zhaomeng, He Yiyi, Zhang Chi
Producer: Fabrizio Massini
Executive Producer: Jennifer Zhang

Photographer: Zhang Bin, Trixie Wang, Lu Shiya

Commissioned by Ibsen International as part of Ibsen in China 2016
Co-Produced by: Goethe-Institut China, Nanluoguxiang Performing Arts Festival, Shanghai International Theatre Festival 



Director’s Note:


While working on previous projects in China I noticed, that many young people have relationships to their parents that I am not used to at all, there seems to be a huge gap, caused by many different issues. As I share the age of young people, that are now expected to start having their own family, I felt a big sympathy for them, though I do not have to face these specific expectations myself.

But then I started wondering about the parents, because it seems like none will ever ask them for their background, for their history. The generation of people, that have been born in China in the 1960s, have been through tremendous changes; they are the ones, that know what China was like before the opening up, their lives got set upside-down again and again.

I aim to open the discourse about both the relationship of parents and children, but also the influence of national development onto family structures. In how far is the family microcosm a metaphor for a national macrocosm and vice versa?


The Children Say:

 “ How to love other people in a good way is a skill too. But I don’t have this skill, like, when I want to express my love to my parents, it is difficult for me to find ways to express that, or it fees awkward for me to do so.”

By Lu Shiya, 2017

“Especially when (parents) take sides against their children, I think it is not a very smart move. In fact, these kind of opposition will not affect children’s decision, it can only destroy our relationship.”

By Lu Shiya, 2017

“If you are always alone, how to say, may be you will feel lonely, especially when you are getting older, the feeling of loneliness is also stronger. So it is necessary to find a shelter (family) where you can feel protected from rains and winds from outside. I feel it is difficult, dont’ know, may be that is all for now. ”

By Lu Shiya, 2017

The Audience Say:

The actors’ bodies and the narration really touched me. They are really different from each other, so everyone can see their countless differences reflected on the stage, which is really beautiful. @WANG ANNI

By Zhang Bin, 2016

So, are we just trapped into something coming from our hearts? When will we break this self-limitation, what is the obstacle between our parents and us? Is the pain something rooted in our minds? Thus, accepting the limitation given by the parents is to accept oneself. Accepting yourself, that is, to accept the parents. @XIAORAN

By Zhang Bin, 2016

This is the most physical Documentary Theatre I’ve seen, the body is able to display“multiple voices” at once, four people and their stories . Sometimes is the film that leads the topic, sometimes it is the stage, but all the time I was focused. @MUTOU

By Zhang Bin, 2016

Sexual orientation, the natural disposition of men to express their appetites makes gay people rebel more straightforward to a family which doesn’t understand them. The red socks on the performer’s head, with a series of exaggerated gestures explain this attempted rebellion very clear. And parents’ disbelief,frustration, and concern shown in the documentary are very moving. @ZHUBIN

By Tim Haukenes, 2017

The Structure within the family is still based on division: the father and mother, we and our fathers, we and our mothers. We use it to maintain the relationship, whether calm or intense, we are willing to let our child go, throw them out, let the parents become themselves, or their own children, or their own parents.@FANCHEN

By Zhang Bin, 2016