The municipal government of Shenzhen, China, does not sponsor a huaju (modern spoken drama) troupe.1 At the same time, the Ministry of Propaganda still controls cultural production. Consequently, Shenzhen thespians must creatively manipulate the state apparatus in order to secure approval (pizhun) for dramatic productions. But, as the playwright's introduction to Xiwang (Hope, 1997) indicates, the lack of institutional support for huaju has also produced a unique opportunity not only to redefine the relationship between artistic production and the Chinese state but also to push the envelope of acceptable plots, style, and form. A journalist by profession, Yang Qian came to the attention of the huaju public when the National Experimental Theatre of China staged his play Guyi Shanghai (Intentional Injury, 1994). In 1997, he registered Ling Ri Yue (Zero Sun Moon)—the first experimental theatre troupe in the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone—as a social club, a gesture that finessed and restructured the administrative organization of huaju in Shenzhen.


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