This is one for the brighter kids in the class. Chimerica by British playwright Lucy Kirkwood was first produced by the Almeida in 2013 when it won an Olivier Award. Kirkwood took her title from a paper presented by Niall Ferguson in 2009 in which he coined the word, using it in the title The End of Chimerica. The paper argued there was a marriage of opposites: China saved, exported and lent, America consumed, imported and borrowed creating a virtual country – Chimerica. For a number of years it seemed like a marriage made in heaven but, in the absence of currency rate adjustments, particularly Chinese currency rate appreciation, it was put on the rocks by the GFC. Perhaps prompted by the play, Ferguson revisited Chimerica in 2013 to note that the marriage had endured, sort of, as both countries were addicted to ultra-loose financial conditions but they should go into rehab, although separately. Now things have changed again.
Notwithstanding its big themes, Chimerica is a play about people and relationships. Fictionally, it concerns an American photojournalist searching for ‘the tank man’ – the protester he photographed standing in front of the tanks in Tiananmen Square in 1989. As his obsessive search puts Chinese friends at risk, the play explores the personal price to those who pursue a truth. This grand play will be directed at the STC by Kip Williams, the company’s new Artistic Director. He has made an important, timely choice of a much acclaimed play.
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