Play Reading


HK English Speaking Union
  • Mon 17-06-2013 7:15 PM - 2 h

Room B



June: Bus Stop by Gao Xingjian

Monday 17 June at 7.15. Facilitator: Mike Ingham


Nobel prize-winner Gao Xingjian wrote this symbolic short play in 1981 and produced it in Beijing at the Youth Arts Theatre in 1983, well before he left China for France, remaining there in exile ever since. The play was banned after 13 performances and Gao’s work was subject to official surveillance thereafter. Bus Stop remains one of his most acclaimed and resonant theatre works. Influenced by late modernist writing and absurd drama, especially Ionesco and Beckett, Gao set out to present a cross-section of contemporary Chinese society in his (for China) boldly experimental play, which shunned the officially approved socialist realism genre of writing in favour of a more critical and ultimately controversial writing style. The eight characters in the play are standing waiting for a bus to go to the city. The most vocal at first is Director Ma, a businessman who is planning to meet some potential collaborators for a dodgy deal. Waiting at the bus stop is also a student on his way to an important exam, a girl on her way to a blind date, an old man on his way to a chess match, a master carpenter intending to go to the city to teach his trade, among various others. They are all waiting hopefully for the bus, but none of the buses that appear actually stop at their stop. To while away the time they discuss various topics, including whether or not it is worth continuing to wait. The question then arises: what should they do next? A communist party organ described Bus Stop as ‘one of the most pernicious literary works produced since the founding of the People’s Republic’. See whether you agree with that verdict!


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