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UK: Theatre stages Tiananmen Square play as ‘powerful reminder’ of brutal crackdown

Marking the 35th anniversary of the Chinese government’s brutal crackdown in Tiananmen Square on 4 June 1989, Amnesty International UK has teamed up with Stage June Fourth to support the first showing in English of the play ‘May 35th ’, which will be at Southwark Playhouse Elephant from Wednesday 29 May to Saturday 1 June.   

The play tells the story of an elderly couple whose son was killed on 4 June 1989 in Tiananmen Square and their dying wish to hold a proper ritual for him in the same place where he was murdered by the state.

Based on interviews and real-life stories of parents whose children were killed in the massacre, this award-winning play by Hong Kong playwright Candace Chong Mui Ngam, was last performed in Hong Kong in 2020 before Beijing’s repressive national security laws, made it impossible for the crackdown to be commemorated or publicly mentioned there. 

The play is called May 35th because the term June 4th is prohibited and blocked from the internet by authorities in China and now Hong Kong, so the online community now refer to the Tiananmen crackdown as May 35th.

Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty International UK’s Chief Executive, said:

“This play is a powerful reminder of the human stories and suffering behind the Chinese government’s brutal crackdown in 1989.

“It is crucial we continue to mark this important anniversary in the UK and elsewhere so the Chinse authorities’ efforts to obliterate it from history are not allowed to succeed. The Government must end its climate of fear which gags people in China and Hong Kong and denies them their right to protest and speak freely.”

Ming Wai Lit, Producer and Stage June Fourth Founder, said: 

“I am eager to present the award-winning play May 35th to English-speaking audiences in London. Banned in Hong Kong, preserving it overseas acts as a significant platform for preserving historical truth and amplifying voices that were silenced. 

“We share the ambition to give a voice to the silenced voices and inspire dialogue and reflection on themes of freedom and resilience. This production underscores our commitment to storytelling that resonates deeply and fosters meaningful change.”


WHAT: The play: May 35th – Remembering the Tiananmen crackdown 

WHERE: Southwark Playhouse, Elephant: Dante Place, 80 Newington Butts, London, SE11 4FL (closest tube: Elephant & Castle station or Borough Station)

WHEN: Press Night:

Other performances with Q&As will be held on:

  • Wednesday 29 May; 19:45-21:15 followed by 30 min Q&A with Professor Rowena He Xiao Qing, prominent scholar on the Tiananmen movement. More recently she taught at Chinese University of Hong Kong but lost her job when her visa was denied by the HK authorities in 2023.
  • Thursday 30 May matinee; 14:30 -15:45 followed by 30 min Q&A with Professor Rowena He Xiao Qing.
  • Friday 31 May; 19:45-21:15
  • Saturday 1 June; 14:30-15:45 followed by 30 min Q&A with Benedict Rogers, co-founder and Chief Executive of Hong Kong Watch.   

For press tickets please RSVP to


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