Whatsonstage.com will be showing the live-stream of #aiww: The Arrest of Ai Weiwei at Hampstead Theatre from 7.30pm this evening (19 April 2013).
Hampstead artistic director Edward Hall and executive producer Greg Ripley-Duggan said: "We are delighted that Larry Warsh's support and energy has made it possible for Hampstead Theatre to break new ground and live-stream this important play by Howard Brenton, allowing people all over the world to engage with the production and with Ai Weiwei's extraordinary story."
#aiww: The Arrest of Ai Weiwei is an art gallery installation that revolves around the book Barnaby Martin wrote about the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei and the days that he spent in detention. Read Michael Coveney's review of the play here.
Follow Twitter coverage in the box below - and join in using #aiwwLiveStream
On 3 April 2011, Ai Weiwei was arrested at Beijing airport as he was boarding a flight to Taipei. Following this, he remained imprisoned by officials for 81 days, as the rest of the world speculated as to his whereabouts. Howard Brenton's play revolves around the artist's story, touching on the extreme conditions he suffered while in confinement and the opposition he has faced while striving for freedom of speech. It also talks of the belligerent interrogation he faced and the silence he was forced to endure.
Ai Weiwei expresses himself through sculpture, installation, photography, architecture and film, but also controversially through social, political and cultural criticism. He said: "My work has always been political, because the choice of being an artist is political in China."
Of the live-streaming event, he said: "It will bring the play's themes of art and society, freedom of speech and openness, the individual and the state to a new, broad and receptive global audience. Without freedom of speech there is no modern world - just a barbaric one."
Howard Brenton added: "On behalf of the company, we are very excited that #aiww: The Arrest of Ai Weiwei will be live-streamed for all to see. The play tells of one person's terrifying, and at times bizarre, experience of being caught in a mad maze. It's a story that's a warning to us all about what happens when freedom of expression goes and a government forces its people live a lie. The Internet's still free though and I hope people tune in to enjoy this live event."
James Macdonald directs the play, with Ashley Martin Davis leading the design team that have utilised the whole of the Hampstead stage.
The cast, starring Benedict Wong as Ai Weiwei, also includes Junix Inocian, Richard Rees, Andrew Koji, Christopher Goh, Andrew Leung and David K S Tse.