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'Chimerica' hits Winnipeg theatre, explores America-China relationship

The play runs Feb.24 to Mar.19

Actors Evan Buliung and Laura Condlln in Chimerica

Dylan Hewlett (Contributed)

Actors Evan Buliung and Laura Condlln in Chimerica

In her award-winning 2013 play Chimerica, writer Lucy Kirkwood takes theatregoers back to the day in 1989 after hundreds of students were massacred in China’s Tiananmen Square. 

She fictionalizes that a rookie photojournalist named Joe Schofield snapped the photo of a lone protestor confronting a row of tanks, his identity known only to history as Tank Man. 

Kirkwood’s play focuses on what would happen if twenty years later, Schofield received a tip that Tank Man might in fact be alive, and living in the U.S. 

That possibility sends the journalist on a quest to track down the Tank Man, leading him through the Chinese American community on a hunt for the truth.  

Kirkwood’s three-hour play – aptly named Chimerica after the economics term that refers to the dualities of both superpowers– explores the complex relationship between China and America. 

Kirkwood's play touches on the differences, as well as the similarities, between the two nations.

Local actor Ross McMillan, who is no stranger to the local theatre scene and has played numerous roles at MTC since 1987, says this production is one of the most intense and thought provoking he’s ever been involved with. 

“I play this guy named Frank who is the editor of a large American newspaper,” said McMillan.

 “He’s the one with the corner office, and is the kind of volcanic power guy who has to say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to whether or not these journalists are going to be allowed to find the tank man.”

McMillan said working on a play that is based on such an historic moment has been humbling.

“I think when people see this production, it will remind them that it was a larger event than what any of us may have realized.”

Produced with Canadian Stage, McMillan said he and the cast will travel to Toronto following the Winnipeg run and play at the Bluma Appel Theatre.

 Chimerica runs from February 24 to March 19 at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre

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