A: David Hare Pf: 1975, Sheffield Pb: 1976 G: Pol. drama in 2 acts S: Village of Long Bow, China, 1945–9 C: 7m, 2f, performing numerous rolesIn a Chinese village after the defeat of the Kuomintang, the peasants undertake the arduous process of fanshen, a total restructuring of their society. The first task is to hold a public meeting, the first for 20 years, and overcome their timidity in order to denounce former collaborators with the Japanese, resulting in their execution. A visiting Communist Party Secretary Liu establishes a Peasants' Association, which has the difficult task of overseeing the redistribution of the landlords' property and of assessing the needs of the community. Decisions are reversed, open criticism is invited, a bandit is re-educated, Communist ideology is propagated: ‘Without the party the village is a bowl of loose sand.’ The official policy of Agrarian Land Reform is now replaced with a new policy promoting collective farming. While fanshen promises a better future for the formerly oppressed peasants, there is still much to be done to ensure that the revolution is successful.
A: David Hare Pf: 1975, Sheffield Pb: 1976 G: Pol. drama in 2 acts S: Village of Long Bow, China, 1945–9 C: 7m, 2f, performing numerous roles
Fanshen was remarkable in two respects: it was the first significant play to be created by a writer working on a script with actors, here the Joint Stock Company improvising on a historical work by William Hinton; and it was one of the few political plays to depict a positive model of socialist revolution rather than document the injustices of capitalism. In the process, Hare does not idealize the Communist revolution in China: it is acknowledged to be inconsistent and sometimes inhumane, even if ultimately it offers the fairest system. The audience is confronted with a choice. As Hare wrote, the audience is not ‘there to find out what this man on the stage thinks…They're there to find out what they think.’