Breaking News
Investing Pro 0

Theatre in democratic Taiwan stages Hong Kong play about Tiananmen square

Published Jun 02, 2023 11:54PM ET Updated Jun 03, 2023 12:01AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
4/4 © Reuters. An actor and an actress perform Hong Kong’s play "May 35", the story of parents grieving the loss of their son killed in the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, during a press conference in Taipei, Taiwan, June 1, 2023. REUTERS/Ann Wang 2/4

By Angie Teo and Jessie Pang

TAIPEI (Reuters) - A Taiwan theatre is showcasing a Hong Kong play about Tiananmen Square to mark the 34th anniversary of the crackdown in Beijing, saying almost as much about shrinking freedoms in the former British colony as it does about the 1989 bloodshed.

Taiwan's Shinehouse theatre group, with the support of rights group Amnesty International, is putting on six performances of "35th of May" in Taipei from June 2-4. The play is about parents grieving for their son killed in Tiananmen Square.

Restrictions on dissent in Hong Kong have all but snuffed out what were once the largest vigils marking the crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square, leaving cities like London, New York, Berlin and Taipei to keep the memory alive.

"It's not only talking about June 4 in 1989, it's talking about all kinds of authoritarian and totalitarian situations," Shinehouse’s director, Chung Po-yuan, told Reuters, explaining the importance of bringing the play to Taiwan.

The last time the play was shown in Hong Kong was in 2020 before the enactment of a national security law that Beijing imposed on the city later that year. It was shown online because of COVID-19 restrictions.

The theatre group that staged it, Stage 64, disbanded in 2021, citing pressure under the national security law.

The play has not been officially banned in Hong Kong but few doubt that authorities in a city where the Tiananmen crackdown has become taboo would move to block it.

An alliance of Hong Kong activists that used to organise the annual Tiananmen vigil was disbanded after the arrest of several of its leaders in 2021. Three were charged with inciting subversion and face up to 10 years in prison.

"May 35th", by playwright Candace Chong, is about a husband and wife dealing with the loss of their son who was killed when troops opened fire on democracy protesters in and around Tiananmen Square 34 years ago.


Even in democratic Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its territory, actors have been nervous about taking part in the play, Chung said. Some worried about their careers or the fate of families and friends in China.

"Everyone has an invisible fear. The actors are actually quite brave," Chung said.

Some actors will use stage names and two Hong Kong actors will wear masks.

"On the one hand, we want to safeguard the freedom of performing this show, on the other, we need to ensure that everyone's safe, including families in Hong Kong," said Chiu E-ling, secretary general of Amnesty International Taiwan.

The founder of Hong Kong's Stage 64 theatre group, Lit Ming Wai, is working on an English version of "35th of May" to spread its message and keep it alive.

"After facing some difficulties in Hong Kong, now we can re-enact this story in another place," said Lit, who is now based in Britain but was visiting Taiwan to see the performance.

"Taiwan has become an important platform. Works banned in different places can be published here, everyone has the opportunity to exchange ideas," she said.

Chung, like everyone in Taiwan mindful of Beijing's vow to take the island back, by force if necessary, said the play had a simple message: "Freedom and democracy should not be taken for granted."

Theatre in democratic Taiwan stages Hong Kong play about Tiananmen square

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with other users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind:  

  •            Enrich the conversation, don’t trash it.

  •           Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed. 

  •           Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically. Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user. Racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination will not be tolerated.

  • Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases. Comments that are written in all caps and contain excessive use of symbols will be removed.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and comments containing links will be removed. Phone numbers, email addresses, links to personal or business websites, Skype/Telegram/WhatsApp etc. addresses (including links to groups) will also be removed; self-promotional material or business-related solicitations or PR (ie, contact me for signals/advice etc.), and/or any other comment that contains personal contact specifcs or advertising will be removed as well. In addition, any of the above-mentioned violations may result in suspension of your account.
  • Doxxing. We do not allow any sharing of private or personal contact or other information about any individual or organization. This will result in immediate suspension of the commentor and his or her account.
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also strongly believe in giving everyone a chance to air their point of view. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.
  • Any comment you publish, together with your profile, will be public on and may be indexed and available through third party search engines, such as Google.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Post also to:
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Continue with Google
Sign up with Email