Closing the special show on the centenary of the Chinese Communist Party, Folha invited actors Pascoal da Conceição and Marcelo Drummond for a dramatic reading of the final scene of the play “Hai Rui Demitido do Cargo”. The eight-minute video was recorded at the Teatro Oficina, São Paulo, and can be viewed below:
The play premiered in 1961 at the Peking Opera and was well received by audiences. The leader Mao Tse-tung, who knew the author, Wu Han, historian then deputy mayor of the capital, would have seen and praised him.
The text depicts an episode in the life of a historical figure from the 16th century Ming dynasty. A senior official, Hai Rui is sent as governor to a southern region and proceeds to punish the local aristocracy for abusing peasants, until he is fired by court order.
Four years later, she was attacked in the Shanghai Wen Hui Bao newspaper, “A Critique of the New History Play ‘Hai Rui Dismissed from Post’” by writer and critic Yao Wen-yuan, already known for its virulence with previous intellectual generation.
“Wu Han clearly wants people to ‘study’ his idealized Hai Rui,” Yao wrote. “What can we ‘study’? The farms of our country have already achieved the collective ownership of socialism. Who then must “give back the earth”?
In the clash between two wings of the Chinese CP, the play was denounced as an allegory – and indeed it was – of the Great Leap Forward and the famine it caused, leading to the deaths of millions of people. at the turn of the 1950s to the 1960s.
The criticism, reproduced by Diário do Povo and others, is seen as the trigger for the Cultural Revolution, led by the so-called Gang of Four, one of them Yao himself. For a decade, Communist leaders have been exiled inside, including Xi Jinping’s father, now the party’s general secretary.
Wu Han was arrested soon after and died in 1969, in prison, without a definite cause.