Shangri-La

by Amy Ng

12 July – 6 August 2016

“You like your minorities like your pandas – picturesque, cuddly, endangered, helpless. But I refuse to be a panda. I refuse to go extinct. I want to live, to live well, to live like them.”

The world premiere

★★★★ WhatsOnStage

Shangri-La is not a myth. Shangri-La is a place. The Himalayan foothills of China’s Yunnan Province were officially renamed ‘Shangri-La’ in a successful bid for the tourist dollar.

Bunny, a young indigenous woman, has witnessed her family’s livelihood destroyed by mass tourism. She dreams of escape — as a globe-trotting photographer. Nelson, her liberal Chinese boss, dreams of a new kind of tourism that’s sustainable and enables genuine cultural exchange. Their white Western clients yearn for escape, for the touch of something authentic. These desires collide head on in Shangri-La, the first play to put contemporary Tibet on the UK stage.

What happens when the only thing you have to sell is your culture? When the only way to free yourself is to betray your roots? Based on her personal experiences, new playwright Amy Ng lays bare the contradictions and private pain of cultural tourism.

Shangri-La is Amy Ng’s first full length play. It was developed at the Tricycle Theatre and received a staged reading at Vibrant 2014 – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights. It is directed by acclaimed director Charlotte Westenra.

Wednesday 20th July  – The Fight for Shangri-La.
A discussion about the competition between provinces in China to be named Shangri-La, and the effects on the local people Amy Ng, Michael Sherringham (The Meridian Club) and Tricia Kehoe (PHD Candidate, Contemporary Chinese Studies)

Thursday 21st July – Can Tourism Ever Be Respectful of Local Cultures?
Amy Ng, Helen Jennings and Peter Bishop (Tourism Concern) Including: FRAMING THE OTHER screening hosted by Tourism Concern

Friday 22nd July – FRAMING THE OTHER screening hosted by Tourism Concern
Introduced by Helen Jennings (Tourism Concern)

About The Playwright Amy Ng

Playwright Amy Ng trained on the Royal Court Theatre’s Critical Mass Programme and the British East Asian Writers’ group supported by The Young Vic. Staged readings include Acceptance as part of Vibrant 2015 – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights. Short plays include Special Occasions (St. James Theatre and Arcola Theatre) and A Little Night Music (Bread and Roses Theatre and The Space). Prelude to a Feast won the Oxford University Film Foundation competition for Best Short Screenplay. Amy is also a historian with a research interest in multinational empires, imperial decline, and nationality conflict, and the author of Nationalism and Political Liberty (Oxford University Press)

About the Director Charlotte Westenra

Director Charlotte Westenra recently co-created the scenario for Christopher Wheeldon’s Strapless for The Royal Ballet. She studied Drama at the University of Manchester and trained at Augusto Boal’s Centre of the Theatre of the Oppressed in Rio de Janeiro. Charlotte was Resident Assistant Director at the Donmar Warehouse 2004–05 and directed Kiss of the Spider Woman and Lower Ninth for the theatre, as well as working as Associate Director to Michael Grandage for Frost/Nixon and to Jamie Lloyd for Piaf (Donmar Warehouse and Vaudeville Theatre). She went on to work at theatres including the Tricycle Theatre, Trafalgar Studios and Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, and is currently an Associate Artist at the Gate Theatre where her productions include Sunset Baby. Theatre elsewhere includes The Return of the Soldier (Jermyn Street Theatre), Venice Preserv’d (Spectators’ Guild), The 24 Hour Plays Celebrity Gala (The Old Vic), Blair’s Children (Cockpit Theatre), Titanic (Scenes from the British Wreck Commissioner’s Inquiry, 1912) (Metropolitan Arts Centre, Belfast) and Brazil and Casablanca (Secret Cinema). Charlotte has been recognized for numerous awards, including a 2006 Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre as Associate Director to Nicolas Kent for Bloody Sunday – Scenes From The Savile Inquiry. She received a nomination for a 2006 WhatsOnStage Theatregoers’ Choice Award for Gladiator Games; the same play was nominated for a 2007 Olivier Award for outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre for its run at Stratford East.

The Press on Director Charlotte Westenra

"Anyone who cares about British musicals must go!… Phenomenal." Mark Shenton on The Return of the Soldier.

“It is a play that – like its flawed, complex characters – has a fiercely beating, damaged heart… the dialogue is bought vividly to life by a fine cast in Charlotte Westenra’s nifty production, which...sings with intelligence.” ★★★★ Lyn Gardner, The Guardian on Sunset Baby.

“Huge credit to the director Charlotte Westenra… She absolutely knows what she's doing. She has a very sure touch. [Verbatim theatre] can go horribly wrong, but it went beautifully right." Arts Extra, BBC on Titanic (Scenes from the British Wreck Commissioner’s Inquiry 1912).

“Westenra, who brings her experience of stagings of the Saville and Hutton inquiries for London's Tricycle Theatre to bear, directs the cast with superb attention to nuance.” ★★★★ Helen Meany, The Guardian on Titanic (Scenes from the British Wreck Commissioner’s Inquiry 1912).

The Press on Shangri-La

“A promising debut…A confident and satirical look at the intricacies of cultural tourism.” Dionne Farrell, London Pub Theatres

“Entertaining and highly relevant play.” Carolin Kopplin, UK Theatre Network

“A production that bursts with authenticity, highlighting a narrative that is new, fresh and vibrant.” Meg Mattravers, Theatre Fullstop

“Shangri-La presents items known to be beautiful, information known to be truths and feelings thought to be correct, then reveals them all to be b******t. Which, fittingly, is fairly similar to the path to enlightenment.” Rosemary Waugh, Exeunt

“Undeniably relevant and central.” Meg Mattravers, Theatre Fullstop

“Amy impresses with her loaded script, oozing with recognisable characters, comedy moments and insight into a culture that is new to the stage.” Meg Mattravers, Theatre Fullstop

“A funny and compelling full length debut from Ng.” Adam Bloodworth, WhatsOnStage

“There is much to admire in Ng's storytelling….The play is witty, and her characters each hold a mirror up to the moral and ethical complexities of cultural, or sustainable, tourism.” Georgia Snow, The Stage

“An intelligent and witty script.” Carolin Kopplin, UK Theatre Network

“Amy Ng has drawn on her own personal experiences as a tour guide to write this honest and compelling play.” Adam Bloodworth, WhatsOnStage

“Ng’s play shows real promise.” Tim Bano, Time Out

“Ng pleasingly eschews giving us any easy answers.” Ian Foster, There Ought To Be Clowns

“Set in the throes of the area’s touristic expansion, Amy Ng’s first full-length play, Shangri-La, questions at what cost it is acceptable to betray a culture, to use what it holds sacred as a means for freedom, enlightenment, and profit.” Georgia Snow, The Stage

“There's strong support from Andrew Koji's Karma and Kevin Shen's Nelson.” Ian Foster, There Ought To Be Clowns

“Julia Sandford brings both warmth and strength to Bunny.” Georgia Snow, The Stage

“Rosie Thomson is excellent as two different women.” Ian Foster, There Ought To Be Clowns

“Yatkwan Wong's simple yet effective design.” Carolin Kopplin, UK Theatre Network

“Yatkwan Wong’s stylishly simple design.” Tim Bano, Time Out

“Ruth Chan's atmospheric musical score.” Carolin Kopplin, UK Theatre Network

12 July – 6 August 2016

Tickets and Times

Tuesday 7:30pm
Wednesday 7:30pm
Thursday 7:30pm
Friday 7:30pm
Saturday 3:00pm
7:30pm
Sunday 3:00pm

Approximately 70 minutes with no interval