For the inaugural Asia TOPA festival, Malthouse Theatre paired award-winning Australian playwright Lachlan Philpott and maverick Beijing-based director Wang Chong to create a new work. The result explores the fraught legacy of China’s 40-year One Child Policy, through the prism of one family.
The term ‘Little Emperors’ relates to a behavioural syndrome affecting the generations of only-children born in the lead up to 2016 (when the One Child Policy was officially abolished). Envisioned as a radical experiment to curb population growth, the policy unwittingly gave rise to a new breed of ultra-indulged children, who in turn will shape the future of a superpower.
Philpott’s play pivots between Melbourne and Beijing, and between English language and Mandarin, to tell the story of a sister, her illegal brother, and the emotional and cultural fall-out of the environments in which they were raised.
Wang Chong, founder of the world-renowned Théâtre du Rêve Expérimental, brings both his bold vision and personal experiences, as a someone born in the One Child Policy era, to bear on this rich and revelatory tale.