Communism to capitalism. The Sugar-Coated Bullets of the Bourgeoisie at the Arcola


Two moments in the development of China are probed in Anders Lustgarten’s new play The Sugar-Coated Bullets of the Bourgeoisie which opens at London’s Arcola Theatre next month.

HighTide and the Arcola are producing the drama which runs at the Dalston venue from April 7 before opening HighTide Festival in September.

The Sugar-Coated Bullets of The Bourgeoisie reunites Lustgarten, who won the inaugural Harold Pinter Prize for If You Don’t Let Us Dream We Won’t Let You Sleep (Royal Court), with HighTide’s artistic director, Steven Atkinson whose recent credits include Forget Me Not, peddling and Bottleneck.

The pair’s previous collaboration was the acclaimed production of Lustgarten’s powerful play about the refugee crisis, Lampedusa, (HighTide/Soho Theatre).

Based on almost a decade of study, The Sugar-Coated Bullets of The Bourgeoisie is an urgent and timely new play that explores the lives of the Chinese people in two eras – during the rise of Maoist China, and in 2016, an increasingly diverse, volatile, $11 Trillion economy on the precipice of change.

Revolution has stirred, China has stood up and Communism reaches Rotten Peach Village. Over the next 60 years, the villagers are battered by the waves of New China, lurching from the extremes of Maoism to the extremes of capitalism. Yet amid all the change and turmoil, one thing does not alter: their willingness to fight.

The production’s eight-strong cast of British East Asian actors includes Andrew Leung (Chimerica, You For Me For You) and Anna Leong Brophy (P’yongyang).

HighTide, one of the UK’s leading new writing organisations focused on developing emerging playwrights, hosts an annual festival in Suffolk which has showcased some of the UK’s most well-respected new writers of the last decade including Luke Barnes, Vickie Donoghue, Ella Hickson, Nick Payne, Beth Steel and Jack Thorne.

Anders Lustgarten has completed a BA, MA and PHD in Chinese language and politics. The Sugar-Coated Bullets of the Bourgeoisie is a take on his PHD topic.

His play Lampedusa, about refugees and migration, was produced by HighTide last year and is being performed in seven countries in 2016.

Another of his plays, Shrapnel: 34 Fragments of a Massacre premièred at Arcola last March. He recently adapted David Peace’s novel The Damned United for Red Ladder and the West Yorkshire Playhouse, and his play The Seven Acts of Mercy, about Caravaggio and violent compassion, will be produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Swan Theatre later this year.

The Sugar-Coated Bullets of the Bourgeoisie runs at the Arcola Theatre from April 7 – 30.

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