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Chinese Boxing

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Performed and Created by Mark Kitto
Directed by Henry Maynard and Marlie Haco

‘Chinese Boxing’ is a bold and innovative piece of theatre that tackles one of the urgent questions of modern times: can China and the West get along? And it tackles it from both sides, no punches pulled.

The year is 1912, a lecture to the Royal Asiatic Society. The speaker is Sir Claude MacDonald, former British Minister Plenipotentiary – ambassador – to Peking in 1900 during the famous Boxer Uprising. Sir Claude commanded the defence of the Legations – diplomatic quarter – when they were besieged by the peasant ‘Boxer’ army, supported by Imperial Chinese troops. The siege lasted 55 days until it was lifted by a multinational relief force. The episode was described in the newspapers of the day as ‘the most exciting episode ever known to civilization’. (It was also the subject of the 1963 epic film, '55 Days at Peking', with Charlton Heston and David Niven.)

Sir Claude wants to discuss China and the West ‘today’ – that’s 1912 for him, today for us. 1912 was the year of the foundation of the Republic of China; a new country, a rising power the world must accommodate. Sound familiar?

Sir Claude starts by ‘taking you back to Peking’ in 1900 and he does just that, to the Imperial Palace, where you hear the story from the Chinese side. It is not straightforward and will challenge your view of the past… and the present.

After an opportunity to visit the bar, the performance is followed by a Q and A about China and Britain today. Mark Kitto, as well as being a writer and actor, is a respected China pundit.

‘Entrancing… incredibly powerful.’ Carla Phillips, Eastern Daily Press

‘Everyone should watch this.’ Former cabinet minister, Baroness Gillian Shephard

‘A stimulating and original show – I learned tons.’ Jonathan Freedland, Guardian/Radio 4

‘Historically fascinating, beautifully written.’ David Haig

We do not accept Amex.

Mark Kitto, writer, producer and performer
Mark has a degree in Mandarin Chinese and lived in China for 18 years. He performed part-time with the Shanghai People’s Arts Theatre and other Chinese companies. He returned to the UK in 2013 to become a professional actor and has appeared in the West End and elsewhere. In 2018 he played Colonel Tom in Jonathan Lewis’s ‘Soldier On’ at the Playground Theatre. He has published two books about China, many articles, and was Prospect magazine’s China columnist for many years. ‘Chinese Boxing’ is his first play. www.chineseboxing.co.uk

Henry Maynard, director
Henry is the artistic director of Flabbergast Theatre, which he founded in 2010. His productions include the critically acclaimed and ACE-funded ‘Tatterdemalion’; a solo clown show, the Bunraku puppetry Boris & Sergey cannon, immersive production ‘The Swell Mob’ and Shakespeare production ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth’. Creative directing projects include with Plan B shooting ‘In the name of man’and supporting his concert at Shakespeare’s Globe.

Marlie Haco, co-director and dramaturg
Marlie is a London-based theatre director and dramaturg. She trained in acting and directing at Central School of Speech and Drama, before completing an English degree at Cambridge University. Marlie specialises in collaborating with playwrights to develop bold new work. She has a physical approach to staging text and loves to explore how aspects of a narrative that may resist verbal expression can be told through movement. marliehaco.com

For more information about the venue and our COVID-19 Health and Safety policy, please see our your-visit page.
Running time - 70 mins, no interval, followed by a Q&A
Recommended for ages 14 + 
9th - 12th March, 7.30pm

Tickets (All unreserved)

General Admission £15

Concession £12

Ten at £10 (Discounted tickets to support access to the arts)

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