|Written by||Lucy Kirkwood|
|Date premiered||May 20, 2013|
Chimerica is a 2013 play by the British dramatist Lucy Kirkwood. It draws its title from the term Chimerica, referring to the predominance of China and America in modern geopolitics. The play premiered in London at the Almeida Theatre and was directed by Lyndsey Turner. Turner's production received several awards and was well-reviewed. A Channel 4 four-part miniseries of the same name based on the play was released in 2019.
Playwright Lucy Kirkwood was commissioned to write the play that would become Chimerica in 2006, seven years before it eventually premiered. Kirkwood estimated that she spent about 100,000 hours working on the play, some of which time was spent shortening its initially four-and-a-half hour run time.
The title of the play comes from the portmanteau Chimerica, coined by Niall Ferguson and Moritz Schularick, referring to the significance of the sociopolitical relationship between China and America, especially in the global economy. Kirkwood has also cited the similarity in sound between 'Chimerica' and the word 'chimera' as a reason for the title.
Chimerica follows photojournalist Joe Schofield, who photographed the unidentified Tank Man in Tiananmen Square in 1989 during the deadly pro-democracy protests. Twenty years later, Chinese dissident and ESL teacher Zhang Lin, who was present during the 1989 riots, assists Joe in his quest to find Tank Man. Zhang Lin's fiancee, Liuli, died in the protests and flashback scenes between Liuli and Zhang Lin appear throughout the play. Joe's journalist colleagues recommend that Joe not pursue the Tank Man. After Joe returns to America, where Lin suggests the Tank Man is living, Zhang Lin is tortured by the Chinese authorities. Joe develops a relationship with Englishwoman, Tessa, who is profiling the Chinese population so that her employer can have an advantage in China. At the end of the play, it is revealed that Zhang Lin was the Tank Man.
- Joe Schofield, an American photojournalist
- Frank Hadley, Joe's editor
- Mel Stanwick, a journalist
- Tessa Kendrick, a market analyst
- Zhang Lin, an ESL teacher and Joe's primary contact in China
- Liuli, Zhang Lin's former fiancée, killed during Tiananmen Square protests
- Benny, Zhang Lin's nephew
- Zhang Wei, Zhang Lin's brother, Benny's assistant
- Paul Kramer, in 1989 was the Beijing correspondent for The Herald
- Feng Meihui, a Chinese businesswoman living in New York
- Jennifer Lee, Feng Meihui's daughter
- Maria Dubiecki, a senator
- David Barker, Maria's assistant
- Mary Chang, a Chinese woman living in New York
- Ming Xiaoli, Zhang Lin's neighbour
- Doreen, Frank's assistant
- Michelle, an Asian-American police officer
- Officer Hyte, Michelle's partner
- Herb, an American tourist, married to Barb
- Barb, an American tourist, married to Herb
- Kate, a British reporter at Tiananmen Square
- Deng, a young Chinese businesswoman
- Peter Rourke, an American CEO of a company with an office in Beijing
- Dawn, Peter's secretary
- Judy, a lawyer for Peter's company
- Pengsi, a Chinese man living in New York
- Pengsi's Wife
- Woman in Strip Club
- Drug Dealer
Chimerica premiered at the Almeida Theatre, London from 20 May 2013 to 6 July 2013, in a production co-produced with Headlong before transferring to the Harold Pinter Theatre. The production was directed by Lyndsey Turner with stage design by Es Devlin.
|Claudie Blakley||Tessa Kendrick|
|Stephen Campbell Moore||Joe Schofield|
|Vera Chok / Wendy Kweh||Michelle/Mary Chang/Deng|
|Karl Collins||David Barker/Peter Rourke/Paul Kramer/Officer Hyte|
|Trevor Cooper||Frank/Herb/Drug Dealer|
|Nancy Crane||Doreen/Maria Dubiecki/Judy|
|Sean Gilder||Mel Stanwick|
|Sarah Lam||Feng Meihui/Ming Xiaoli|
|Andrew Leung||Young Zhang Lin/Benny|
|David K S Tse||Zhang Wei/Wang Pengsi|
|Benedict Wong||Zhang Lin|
|Rosie Armstrong||Ensemble/Understudy for Tessa Kendrick, Doreen, Maria Dubiecki, Judy|
|Tina Chiang||Ensemble/Understudy for Liuli, Jennifer, Michelle, Mary Chang, Deng, Feng Meihui, Ming Xiaoli|
|Christopher Hollinshead||Ensemble/Understudy for Joe Schofield|
|Math Sams||Ensemble/Understudy for David Barker, Peter Rourke, Paul Kramer, Officer Hyte, Frank, Herb, Drug Dealer, Mel Stanwick|
|Kevin Shen||Ensemble/Understudy for Zhang Lin, Young Zhang Lin, Benny, Zhang Wei, Wang Pengsi|
In September 2015, Chimerica was performed for the first time in the United States. The production was directed by David Muse at Studio Theatre in Washington, D.C.. Rob Yang played Zhang Lin opposite Ron Menzel's Joe Schofield.
Chimerica made its Canadian premiere at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre in 2016. The production was directed by Chris Abraham and starred Evan Buliung as Joe and Paul Sun-Hyung Lee as Zhang Lin. Filmmaker Deco Dawson provided video which was projected during the performance. This production was co-produced by the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre and by Toronto's Canadian Stage. After playing in Winnipeg from February till mid-March, the production travelled to Toronto and played from the end of March to mid-April.
Chimerica premiered in Australia in March 2017. Kip Williams directed the Sydney Theatre Company production at the Roslyn Packer Theatre. The production starred Mark Leonard Winter as Joe and Jason Chong as Zhang Lin among the cast of 32 actors.
In 2019, Channel 4 released a four-part miniseries called Chimerica inspired by the play. The adaptation was penned by Lucy Kirkwood who made several changes from the original script including changing the setting from 2012 to 2016. The main character in the series is called Lee Berger and is played by Alessandro Nivola.
The Almeida production was described in one review as "fluent and seductive", with a "filmic quality", with the multiple set changes well-handled. The premiere was well received and garnered many awards.
|2013||Evening Standard Awards||Best Play||Won|||
|2014||Olivier Awards||Best New Play||Won|||
|Best Director||Won||for Lyndsey Turner|
|Best Lighting Design||Won||for Tim Lutkin and Finn Ross|
|Best Sound Design||Won||for Carolyn Downing|
|Best Set Design||Won||for Es Devlin|
|Susan Smith Blackburn Prize||Won||for Lucy Kirkwood|||
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