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by Howard Brenton, based on Ai Weiwei's account in Barnaby Martin's book 'Hanging Man'

Directed by James Macdonald

'A play that deserves to be an urgent, timely piece of theatre' Time Out

On 3 April 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).

Benedict Wong will play Ai Weiwei. He most recently featured in the critically acclaimed Hamlet (Young Vic) opposite Michael Sheen. His many film credits include Ridley Scott's Prometheus, The Lady, Dirty Pretty Things and Danny Boyle's Sunshine. The Counselor directed by Ridley Scott, Hummingbird written and directed by Steven Knight and Kick Ass 2 will be released later this year.

This production is made possible by the generous support of Lin and Ken Craig.
Pictures
Reviews
Robert Shore in Metro
Andrzej Lukowski in Time Out
Michael Coveney in WhatsOnStage.com
People involved
Christopher Goh
"2nd Police Guard" / "2nd Army Guard"
Junix Inocian
"B" / "Airport Official"
Andrew Koji
"1st Police Guard" / "1st Army Guard"

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