Top Secret in Beijing

The Production

Based on interviews and trial transcripts, Top Secret tells the inside story of the Washington Post’s 1971 decision to publish the pentagon papers. The play recently concluded a 10-day, 3-city tour in China. Read More

From the Blog

Cowan’s ‘Top Secret’ debuts at Beijing’s National Center for the Performing Arts

NCPA Beijing.JPG

At the invitation of TSChina2013.jpgBeijng’s National Centre for the Performing Arts and sponsored in part by the U.S. Embassy in Beijingand the U.S. Department of StateL.A. Theatre Works (LATW) returns to China in June, 2013 with CCLP director Geoffrey Cowan’s riveting historical drama, Top Secret: The Battle for The Pentagon Papers. LATW toured China with Top Secret in 2011, playing to sold out houses of Chinese professionals and students.

USC Annenberg’s Center on Communication Leadership & Policy has produced a series of educational conversations around these performances.

L.A. Theatre Works will be the first American theater company to perform at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing, China’s leading performing arts center (“The Egg”). Additional tour venues include the Tianjin Grand Theater as well as major venues in Hangzhou, Suzhou, Chongqing and Fuling.

Due to its historic debut on June 4, 2013 the play is receiving national press reviews noting the significance of the content in juxtaposition with the location.

According to The Atlantic:

The play is scheduled for a three-night run at Beijing’s National Centre for the Performing Arts in June, the first time any American play has appeared inside the grande dame of Chinese music and theater. It’s also set for performances in Tianjin, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Fuling, and Chongqing.

According to The New York Times:

Even more surprising is the fact that the play is back again in China, and this time it is being performed in Beijing at the National Center for the Performing Arts, which, just west of Tiananmen Square, is the most prestigious venue of its kind in China.

Notably, the play is receiving positive reviews from audiences attending the performances via China’s social media site Weibo. The following excerpts are translations from the site following the performances in the provinces of Hangzhou, Suzhou, and Tianjin.

AMERICAN THEATER HITS BEIJING – CCTV News

Hangzhou:
Hangzhou.jpg
“I watched the play Top Secret from Los Angeles Theater Works. There were only 13 actors and the stage property could not be simpler. However, it contains profound messages that are worth thinking.”

Suzhou:
Suzhou.jpg
“It’s my first time to watch a play in English. I was able to skip the script screen and catch with the pace of the performance (since the script didn’t follow the performance). The plot was compact and full of humor. The actors from those familiar TV series were terrific. It surprised me that I could watch it on the first floor even though my ticket was on the second.”

Tianjin:

Tianjin.jpg
“Yesterday, the artists from Los Angeles Theater Works gave us an amazing play, Top Secret: The Battle for The Pentagon Papers. It allowed the audience of Tianjin to have an opportunity to closely experience the American politics, media, law and culture. After the performance, the director, producing director and the actors answered the questions from the audience. The interaction was friendly and of high standard. It was impressive that the beautiful lady from the theater spoke perfect Chinese.”

The play concludes it’s run on June 10, 2013 at the Fuling Grand Theatre in Chongqing.

Top Secret: The Battle for the Pentagon Papers in China is produced by L.A. Theatre Works and Ping Pong Productions (www.pingpongarts.org), whose mission is to promote cultural diplomacy through the performing arts.

Sponsors include the United States Embassy Beijing, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs-US Department of State including the Arts Envoy Program, Ford FoundationChina Southern Airlines Los Angeles Office and Marriott Hotels and Resorts, including the Imperial Mansion, Beijing-Marriott Executive Apartments; Renaissance Tianjin Lakeview Hotel; and JW Marriott Hotel Chongqing.

L.A. Theatre Works returns to China in 2013 with “Top Secret: The Battle for The Pentagon Papers”

Los Angeles, Calif. –  At the invitation of Beijng’s National Centre for the Performing Arts and sponsored in part by the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and the U.S. Department of StateL.A. Theatre Works (LATW) will return to China in June, 2013 with Geoffrey Cowan and Leroy Aarons‘ riveting historical drama, Top Secret: The Battle for The Pentagon PapersLATW toured China with Top Secret in 2011, playing to sold out houses of Chinese professionals and students.

L.A. Theatre Works will be the first American theater company to perform at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing, China’s leading performing arts center (“The Egg”). Additional tour venues include the Tianjin Grand Theater as well as major venues in Hangzhou, Suzhou, Chongqing and Fuling.

Top Secret: The Battle for The Pentagon Papers is an inside look atThe Washington Post’s decision to publish a study labeled “top secret” that documented the history of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. The subsequent trial pitted the public’s right to know against the government’s need for secrecy. The epic legal battle went to the nation’s highest court – arguably one of the most important Supreme Court cases.

Traveling to China with L.A. Theatre Works will be their producing director Susan Loewenberg; multiple award-winning director Brian Kite; and cast members Margaret Colin (Eleanor Waldorf-Rose on Gossip Girl), John Getz (The Social Network) and Gregory Harrison (Trapper John M.D., One Tree Hill, Ringer). Also in the cast are Hugo ArmstrongJosh ClarkHenry ClarkeNicholas HormannEmilie Ohana,Darren RichardsonPeter Van Norden and Tom Virtue, who are known to Chinese audiences from popular TV shows such as CSI, Drop Dead Diva, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Six Feet UnderWeeds, Studio 60 on The Sunset Strip, The Office, The West Wing, Frasier, Seinfeld and Ally McBeal.

As part of the tour, L.A. Theatre Works is coordinating discussions with Chinese journalists and lawyers at leading law schools, journalism schools and history and political science departments in each city on the tour.

Covering the 2011 Chinese tour for The New York Times, Andrew Jacobs wrote, “During its 10-day run ‘Top Secret’ has played sold-out audiences…with many performances erupting in shouts of approval from the audience and standing ovations. Perhaps most gratifying…was that those audiences were almost entirely Chinese and young.” Agreed Evan Osnos, in The New Yorker, “The shows had no trouble finding an audience… ticket-holders showed up in droves, representing a range of China’s scrappiest news organizations. The audience was overwhelmingly Chinese—and overwhelmingly full…It was thrilling.” Additonal coverage of the tour appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Le Monde, CCTV, China Radio International, Shanghai Daily, Global Times, Time Out Beijing, Time Out Shanghai, and Caixin Media, among others.

L.A. Theatre Works is the leading radio theater company in the United States, committed to using innovative technologies to preserve and promote significant works of dramatic literature and bringing live theater into the homes of millions. The company’s public radio series, featuring stage plays performed by America’s top actors augmented by interviews with the artists and others, can be heard in over 100 markets in the U.S.; on Radio Beijing in China; on SiriusXM Book Radio Channel 80; and can be streamed on demand atwww.latw.org. The recordings are available worldwide through Amazon, audible.com, iTunes and in bookstores. L.A. Theatre Works audio plays are also available at over 11,000 libraries, and recordings and teaching materials are used by over 3,000 middle and high schools across the U.S.

Top Secret: The Battle for the Pentagon Papers in China is produced by L.A. Theatre Works and Ping Pong Productions (www.pingpongarts.org), whose mission is to promote cultural diplomacy through the performing arts.

Sponsors include the United States Embassy BeijingBureau of Educational and Cultural AffairsUS Department of State including the Arts Envoy ProgramFord Foundation, China Southern AirlinesLos Angeles Office and Marriott Hotels and Resorts, including the Imperial MansionBeijing-Marriott Executive ApartmentsRenaissance Tianjin Lakeview Hotel; and JW Marriott Hotel Chongqing.

TOUR DATES
Top Secret: The Battle for The Pentagon Papers

May 25, 2013
Hangzhou
HANGZHOU THEATRE
www.hzjy.cn/showjm.aspx?id=179

May 29, 2013
Suzhou:
SUZHOU ART AND CULTURE CENTER, GRAND THEATRE
http://theatre.sscac.com.cn/Theatre/TheatreDetail.aspx?DramaID=fe2e7305-22c6-48e3-a81b-ea847b2aff26&code=JJSY

May 31 & June 1, 2013
Tianjin:
TIANJIN GRAND THEATRE OPERA HOUSE

June 4-6, 2013
Beijing
NATIONAL CENTRE FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS
http://www.chncpa.org/ycgp/jmxx/2012-11-08/427483.shtml

June 8, 2013
Chongqing:
GUOTAI THEATRE

June 10, 2013
Fuling:
FULING GRAND THEATRE

Talking with Chinese about Press Freedom: The Play “Top Secret” in China

On February 2, 2012, the USC US-China Institute and the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy co-sponsored an event at USC called Talking with Chinese about Press Freedom: The Play ‘Top Secret’ in China. The panel, moderated by US-China Institute Executive Director Clayton Dube, included playwright Geoffrey Cowan, producing director Susan Loewenberg, and actor Joshua Stamberg, who played Ben Bradlee in the tour of TOP SECRET in China.  The event also included a special presentation by Jason Xia, a masters student at USC who coordinated a social media campaign to promote the play’s tour in China on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter. Continue reading

LATW Presents: Top Secret China

This short documentary on the tour of TOP SECRET in China gives a behind-the-scenes look at what it took to take this play, with its themes of freedom of the press, to three cities in China – and at the reaction of the audience and the Chinese government.