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.


“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.”

“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.”


“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 (, 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.

Top Secret attracts global media attention

The recent tour of Top Secret in China has received attention from media outlets all over the world. Below are links to the coverage:

Chinese Allow Play on Pentagon Papers, but Not a Talk About It
The New York Times
December 2, 2011

Pentagon Papers still causing controversy 40 years on (in China)
Los Angeles Times
December 3, 2011

and Beijing
New Yorker
December 9, 2011

In Beijing, you just can’t chat about things “Top Secret”
Shanghai Scrap, Bloomberg
December 3, 2011

American Play Center on Free Speech Tours China

Voice of America News
December 5, 2011

STL Students Attended a Performance of “Top Secret”
Peking University School of Transnational Law
November 30, 2011

PKU cancels talk after free speech play

Global Times
December 4, 2011

Le pari (in)sense d’une troupe de theatre americaine en Chine
Le Monde
December 9, 2011

US Consul General in Shanghai discusses Top Secret

In this short clip, the United States Consul General in Shanghai talks about the timeless message of Top Secret in a toast at a reception for the Top Secret cast and team at his apartment.