GARY MOORE'S Burning in China - A Political Story
…electrifying....the audience was powerfully moved by a story filled with poetic insight and political sophistication
Burning in China gives audiences an inside personal look at a crucial development in modern China.
For two months in 1989 a student-led movement in China built up such a forceful revolt against tyranny that the old men who ruled the country began to fear they would lose their power. Day after day from the middle of April until the start of June the Chinese leadership watched its political, economic, moral, and cultural sources of power – not only in Beijing but in Shanghai, Wuhan, Chengdu, Xian, Dalian, Guangzhou and dozens of other cities -- go over to support the students. At last it crushed the student movement with the overwhelming military power that was all that it had left.
If Tiananmen Square was the eye of the storm that rose up against Chinese dictatorship, Burning in China, the story of myself and my Chinese students in Shanghai, takes place on the edge of that storm, where we – Chinese and spellbound visitor alike – were pushed and pulled by its dangerous winds in those powerful days that culminated on June 4, 1989. When that stormy movement ended, the story of democracy in China went into the dark. But in the dark there is a dream.
Shen Tong, one of the leaders of the Tiananmen movement who now lives in New York, in his book Almost a Revolution connects Tiananmen in 1989 with a sequence of previous developments that brought massive outpourings of rebellious free speech in pursuit of the Chinese dream of human rights:
This sequence of events helps us see the Tiananmen Movement of 1989 not as a one-time democratic eruption, but part of a historical trend. After reading Shen Tong, I have a better idea why one of my Chinese friends held in her fingertips like precious jewels the scribbled notebook pages of poems and slogans she had copied from the da zi bao, big character posters, at the first Shanghai demonstration of 1989 at Fudan University. “Since I was a little girl,” she said, “I have only heard of some people saying and writing things against the government. Now I have seen them with my own eyes and am holding them in my own hand. Today is the greatest day of my life!”
Many Chinese have a similar feeling even now as they treasure the memory of Tiananmen. This is true of the young scientist I met in San Diego, who in thanking me for my play explained that before coming to America for graduate school in her twenties, all she knew about Tiananmen was that it was a lie of the Americans who used their powers of film magic to fabricate the seas of rebels in the Square. Now she’s seen too much evidence, she said, and she’s proud that her people stood up. Such standing up doesn’t happen every day in China, but it is a very real, as well as a very dangerous, tradition. Given the history, the question is not whether a popular movement of the Chinese people will renew the insistence on free speech and other human rights, but when.
Burning in China is my response to Chinese friends who as I left their country in 1989 implored me: “Tell people what happened here.” Burning in China tells what happened in that time of progress and hope, the time of a powerful step toward the democratic China of the future.
RESOURCES ON TIANANMEN AND CHINESE DEMOCRACY
Support China Network
Almost a Revolution, Shen Tong
Wu’er Kai’xi Blog
Beijing Coma, Ma Jian
Standoff at Tiananmen, Eddie Cheng
Prisoner of the State, The Secret Journal of Zhao Ziyang
See Burning in China at the New York International Fringe Festival 2010!
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