On April 3 2011, as he was boarding a flight to Taipei, the Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei was arrested at Beijing Airport. Advised merely that his travel "could damage state security" he was escorted to a van by officials, after which he disappeared for 81 days. On his release, the government claimed that his imprisonment related to tax evasion.
Howard Brenton's new play is based on recent conversations with Ai in which he told the story of that imprisonment - by turns surreal, hilarious, and terrifying. A portrait of the Artist in extreme conditions, it is also an affirmation of the centrality of Art and of freedom of speech in civilised society.
Brenton returns to Hampstead Theatre following the critically acclaimed 55 Days last season. His other recent credits include Never So Good, Danton's Death (National Theatre) and Anne Boleyn (Shakespeare's Globe).
Director James MacDonald make his Hampstead Main Stage debut following And No More Shall We Part in the Downstairs studio which subsequently transferred to the Edinburgh Festival last summer. As Associate Director of The Royal Court for 14 years, his many productions include Cock, Love and Information and Blasted. Other credits include A Delicate Balance (Almeida Theatre) and The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other (National Theatre).
This production is made possible by the support of Lin and Ken Craig. Full casting information to be announced shortly.
Book tickets at www.hampsteadtheatre.com