“Stones of Tiananmen” Review

Source: WRIC                                                                        07-29-2014


On July 28, 2014, a full-length play, “Stones of Tiananmen” was stage read for the first time at the HBO building in NYC.  Written by Cynthia L Cooper and directed by Peggy Howard Chane, the play features the stories of China’s jailed Nobel Peace Laureate, Liu Xiaobo, his wife Liu Xia, “Mothers of Tiananmen” leader Professor Ding Zilin, and her husband Jiang Peiken, and their struggle against injustice in the Chinese government decades after the Tiananmen Massacre.



Part of the audience attending the rehearsal.  (photo by WRIC)


Back row: from left to right, director of CUSIB member Ann Noonan and her husband and fellow CUSIB member Mr.Justin Yu also attended the Stones of Tiananmen.


Women’s Rights in China (WRIC) founder/director, Jing Zhang went to see the play performed and this was her reaction: “I went to see the play not knowing what to expect. However, as soon as it started, I was surprised by how genuine and authentic the actors sounded.  Their voices were so full of emotion that if I closed my eyes, I couldn’t believe this was an act. The “Stones of Tiananmen” was so engaging and when I actually turned around to look at other people’s reactions I knew they felt the same. People in the audience were laughing and crying.”


“The play really reflects the political reality in China,” Jing explained. “The authoritarian government’s psychological torture of Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia etc. indicates their hostility and fear towards democracy and freedom. It is a huge irony that an economic giant like China continues to detain a Nobel Peace Laureate.”

“From the Democracy Wall in 1979, to the Tiananmen Massacre in 1989, so many people have sacrificed their lives, lost their freedom,” Jing said. “Until today, the Tiananmen Mothers who have lost their children or husbands still cannot publicly mourn for their dead family. Gao Yu, a conscientious reporter who was a friend of Liu Xiaobo and Ding Zilin, fighting alongside them, was put into jail many times after the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre. In April this year, she was arrested as she exercised her freedom of speech, and hasn’t been released since. These fighters are the “Stones of Tiananmen”; their lives and freedom became stones, constructing a path for China towards democracy and freedom.” Jing thanked playwright C.L. Cooper and director Peggy Chane for recording this piece of history. It lets more people understand the huge costs that the modern Chinese have to pay when fighting for democracy and freedom.


The reading ended after 2 hours, and the audience applauded with excitement. Afterwards, WRIC founder Jing Zhang and USBIC Executive Director Ann Noonan exchanged opinions with the playwright and director.


Playwright C.L. Cooper is an author and investigative journalist who has written numerous novels, plays and articles about social justice and human rights, exposing corruption in both the American government and now, the Chinese. Peggy Howard Chane has directed and produced numerous works in television and previously directed a score of plays.



At the end of the play, the audience stands up and applauds for the playwright, director and actors.(photo by WRIC)


A group photo of WRIC founder Jing Zhang, USBIC Executive Director Ann Noonan, director Peggy Chane and Playwright C.L. Cooper after their discussion.