Wah Guan Lim is an assistant professor of Chinese at Bard College in New York. He is a scholar of transnational Chinese literature and theater. Currently, he is completing a book manuscript that examines the politics of culture and performance across Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, and Singapore in the 1980s. He received his BA from the University of New South Wales, MSt in Chinese studies from Oxford University, MA in East Asian studies from Princeton University, and PhD in Asian literature, religion, and culture from Cornell University.


Theatre of Rebellion: Danny Yung and political Hong Kong theatre

No other date has had a greater impact on the lives of Hongkongers in its recent history than the year 1997. For the decade after the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration that sealed Hong Kong’s impending return to the People’s Republic of China, its dramatic stage was flooded primarily by a genre of production known as the “1997 plays,” which on-the-one-hand imagined what life would be like in the post-handover period and on the other reminisced upon a nostalgic colonial past. This talk will focus on the pioneering efforts by Hong Kong’s foremost avant-garde dramatist Danny Yung and his experimental theatre group Zuni Icosahedron. I argue that Yung’s Opium War—Four Letters Addressed to Deng Xiaoping (1984) not only spearheaded the “1997 plays” that precipitated a dialogic discourse about identity, but also distinguished itself by employing paradigm shifts with which to view the normally assumed Hong Kong-Chinese power dynamic. As a result, it gave voice to Hong Kong subjectivity while also accelerating deep reflection and critique about what it means to be Chinese. 

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