Ai Weiwei Gets a Stageplay with a Hashtag in the Title

by Corinna Kirsch on February 27, 2013 Newswire

Still from "Never Sorry," Alison Klayman's 2012 documentary on Ai Weiwei.

Ai Weiwei’s life’s story is worth a lot, and there are a growing number of projects to prove it. First there was the movie. Then came the slew of exhibitions, books, and a range of tchotchkes. This “Free Ai Weiwei” jewelry case is a personal favorite. Now, we’ve heard news that a live-action play, #aiww: The Arrest of Ai Weiwei, will launch this April in London.

The play’s based on the yet-to-be-released book by writer Barnaby Martin, Hanging Man: The Arrest of Ai Weiwei and features conversations between the writer and Ai shortly after the Chinese dissident’s release from prison. Faber & Faber, the book’s publisher describes Hanging Man as “a book about courage and hope found in the absence of freedom and justice.” That book won’t be released until just a few weeks before the play’s debut, which suggests the timing is geared to build excitement for ticket sales.

Without that text, we’re not really sure what to expect on-stage, but from what we can tell, the play’s tone looks to be downright depressing. The book has been adapted for the stage by Howard Brenton, a politically-minded playwright whose previous projects include Weapons of Happiness, a play about a factory strike. His plays have been described by press as “”gripping, murky, and moody”.

Adding to that somber feeling, the play will feature “grey men”, the Maoists who run China and decided Ai’s fate.

The play will begin its run at London’s Hampstead Theatre on April 11 and continue through May 18. Tickets cost between £14.50 – £29.

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