China: German theater group barred from staging Ibsen play | News | DW | 12.09.2018
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China: German theater group barred from staging Ibsen play

The Berlin-based troupe has been stopped from performing a Henrik Ibsen play about the manipulation of truth. At Beijing performances of An Enemy of the People, audience members openly criticized government censorship.

Berlin's famous Schaubühne theater troupe has been barred from continuing to perform a play by Norwegian master Henrik Ibsen in China, German public broadcaster ARD reported on Wednesday.

The Schaubühne team was told that the stages they were meant to perform on in the city of Nanjing are broken, but the theatre is suspicious that it has something to do with the content of the play.

An Enemy of the People, written by Ibsen in 1882, deals with how truths and ideas of morality are manipulated for public consumption. The troupe was meant to conduct a discussion about the play's themes after the performances.

After the Schaubühne's outings in Beijing, members of the audience openly criticized the Chinese government and reportedly complained about state censorship. Audience members described their experience of the play as "emotional," and began to write about it in social media posts.

Ibsen censored?

The Chinese government is well-known for its censorship of art, news, and websites that are critical of the ruling Communist party.

The theater in Nanjing told the Schaubühne troupe that it would have to cancel its engagements due to "technical problems," but the German actors have made clear their plans to remain in Nanjing until they get an official written explanation of why their performances have been scrapped.

Schaubühne is no stranger to political controversy. In 2017, it pulled out of an international theater festival in Istanbul due to "the arrests of many journalists, scientists and human rights activists" by Turkey.

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