It’s true: Vagina Monologues Banned in Shanghai

I read it in a comment yesterday, and now I’ve seen it documented: Shanghai is not quite ready for The Vagina Monologues. At least not in Chinese.

THE internationally-acclaimed play The Vagina Monologues has been banned in Shanghai because conditions in China are “not ripe” for the taboo-breaking drama.

Eve Enslerโ€™s award-winning play, which features a series of interviews with women about sex and sexuality, was to be staged at the Shanghai Drama Arts Theatre for one month from tomorrow.

While the play has been performed in English in China, the Shanghai venue was to present a Chinese-language version in the country for the first time.

To me, the ban comes as no big surprise. (The big surprise was that they were considering perfoming this in China at all.) But there’s an odd twist to the story, one that sets it apart from other entertainment banned in China:

Chinese authorities often ban or censor performances they deem too risquรฉ. Even the mainstream sitcom Friends is under the censorโ€™s scrutiny for its many references to sex. But the ruling against The Vagina Monologues follows praise for the play in Chinaโ€™s state-controlled media.

The website of the English-language China Daily newspaper includes interviews with the producer and director of the cancelled performances, who say the play is inspirational and teaches women not to feel embarrassed about their sexuality.

The article, posted last month, reports that it took Li Shengying, the producer, nearly two years to negotiate with Ms Ensler the rights to perform the play in Chinese, since she insisted that the original script be performed in its entirety.

All that work, for naught. Last I heard it’s still going to be performed in Beijing, but only in English. (The censors are far less nervous about subversive or dangerous materials when they are not in Chinese.) It’s really too bad; I saw it as a great step (not quite a leap) forward.

(Link is via a tip from Adam.)

The Discussion: 2 Comments

Even though I pointed it out to you. ๐Ÿ™‚

Just kidding.

February 9, 2004 @ 8:54 pm | Comment

Shanghai: the most conservative city in China.

February 9, 2004 @ 9:24 pm | Comment

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