Artistic Statement from the Playwright of Wild Boar, Candace Chong
A Cautionary Tale from a Distant Shore
In 2011, a news item in Hong Kong caught my eye: a theatre company rehearsing a play about June 4, 1989 (the day China unleashed its army on protesters in Tiananmen Square) received anonymous threats. I was shocked. I grew up in Hong Kong. It never occurred to me that the freedom of speech I enjoy as a creator would ever be under attack. As I did more research on the story I began to ponder the question of press freedom.
Before writing my initial draft, I interviewed many reporters and editors. These press professionals were convinced that freedom of expression had been eroding in Hong Kong, and that the situation was only getting worse. I thought to myself, if we turn a blind eye to the problem, we won’t recognize the city twenty to thirty years down the road. In my play, I tried to imagine such a scenario, set sometime in the future. Thus as a fable, Wild Boar is a cautionary tale. It sounds an alarm.
In the past six years, however, I have watched this absurdist play slowly morph into realism. The press in Hong Kong has become merely the mouthpiece of the government and big business. Threats facing the mass media have become more real and more brutal. Journalists in Hong Kong have had to resort to demonstrations and leaving their columns blank as a means of protest. As a playwright, I share their dejection and anger. I want to give voice to this vital pack of wild boars so that their roars resound in the city.
Today, this call has crossed the oceans, traversing 12,518 kilometers to Chicago. I believe the power of art will shorten the physical distance between us. Watching the fire from the other shore, will you feel the pain less acutely? I hope not. If this fable hasn’t provided a proper warning for my own city, let its ending be a mirror for audiences elsewhere.