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Live Streaming of Howard Brenton's #aiww The Arrest of Ai Weiwei

Theatre news

HAMPSTEAD Theatre has announced that the performance of #aiww: The Arrest of Ai Weiwei on Friday, April 19, 2013, will be live-streamed over the Internet worldwide and free.

Hampstead Theatre and Ai Weiwei believe that streaming this great play around the world live and free is true to the themes and spirit of the story.

Ai Weiwei says:

“China is a society that forbids any flow of the information and freedom of speech. This is on record, so everybody should know this. I am delighted that #aiww: The Arrest of Ai Weiwei will be live-streamed to the world. It will bring the play’s themes of art and society, freedom of speech and openness, the individual and the state to a new, broad and receptive global audience. Without freedom of speech there is no modern world – just a barbaric one.

“I’d like to thank my close friend Larry Warsh and Hampstead Theatre for supporting the story by allowing it to be heard on a much bigger scale – and for free, which is true to its spirit. I would really like to be there on opening night but unfortunately my passport still hasn’t been returned to me. Good luck to all involved.”

Howard Brenton’s play #aiww: The Arrest of Ai Weiwei is the story of the arrest of Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei on April 3, 2011, as he was boarding a flight to Taipei. Advised merely that his travel “could damage state security” he was escorted to a van by officials, after which he disappeared for 81 days. On his release, the government claimed that his imprisonment related to tax evasion.

Based on recent conversations with Ai in which he told the story of that imprisonment to journalist and writer Barnaby Martin, the story is by turns surreal, hilarious, and terrifying. A portrait of the Artist in extreme conditions, it is also an affirmation of the centrality of Art and of freedom of speech in civilised society.

Benedict Wong plays Ai, leading the cast that also includes Christopher Goh, Junix Inocian, Andrew Koji, Orion Lee, David Lee-Jones, Andrew Leung, Richard Rees and David Tse.

The production is designed by Ashley Martin Davis, with lighting by Matthew Richardson, sound by Emma Laxton and choreography by Scott Ambler.

Hampstead Theatre is working very closely with a number of institutions, galleries and businesses world-wide to promote the live-streaming. To watch the show live and for free on the April 19, visit or The live-streaming will begin from 7.30pm. Viewers can interact via twitter and facebook throughout the live-streaming using #aiwwlivestream

Howard Brenton said: “On behalf of the company, we are very excited that #aiww: The Arrest of Ai Weiwei will be live-streamed for all to see. The play tells of one person’s terrifying, at times bizarre experience caught in a mad maze. It’s a story that’s a warning to us all about what happens when freedom of expression goes and a government forces its people live a lie. The internet’s still free though and I hope people tune in to enjoy this live event.”

Larry Warsh is the founder of AW Asia, a private organisation founded to promote Chinese contemporary art in the United States. An enthusiastic collector of fine art for many years, Warsh possesses an extensive professional background within both Western and Chinese contemporary art.

Hampstead Theatre has negotiated an unprecedented agreement with the cast and creative team to allow the live streaming of this April 19 performance.

Hampstead Theatre’s Chief Executives, Edward Hall and Greg Ripley Duggan, said: “We are delighted that Larry Warsh’s support and energy has made it possible for Hampstead Theatre to break new ground and live-stream this important play by Howard Brenton, allowing people all over the world to engage with the production and with Ai Weiwei’s extraordinary story. We are also grateful to Howard, the Cast and the Creative Team for their generosity in allowing their work to be shown in this way.”

#aiww The Arrest of Ai Weiwei runs at Hampstead Theatre until Saturday, May 18, 2013. Read more.