Premiered at Malthouse Melbourne as part of Asia TOPA Festival in February 2017 [director Chong Wang]
Shortlisted Nick Enright Drama Prize, NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, 2018.
I am four. We are on a bus in the city and we pass Mao’s mausoleum. I ask Mum lots of questions about him and she answers them all softly, efficient as ever. When I ask DID MAO HAVE BROTHERS AND SISTERS? OR WAS HE AN ONLY CHILD LIKE ME?
‘Little Emperor Syndrome’ is a term used to describe the behavioural time-bomb created by China’s One Child Policy. Introduced in the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution as a way of curbing population growth, an entire generation was raised without siblings. Pampered, entitled, and bucking against China’s proud tradition of filial piety, the children of the world’s next superpower were born bearing the weight of their parents’ expectations. Set in both Melbourne and Beijing, and weaving between Mandarin and English, Little Emperors deals with a single family as they attempt to negotiate the troubled waters of their shared history, one that includes a hidden second child, forced separation, and deep wells of regret and shame.
Malthouse Theatre Melbourne as part of Asia TOPA Festival February 2017 [director Chong Wang]
to be published by Oberon Books in 2018. For a copy of the script please contact Lachlan’s agent link email@example.com
★★★★ ‘Philpott is without doubt one of Australia’s most talented playwrights, as anyone lucky enough to see The Trouble with Harry as part of the 2014 Melbourne festival can attest. This collaboration with Chong, himself an immensely sensitive and supple theatre maker, is tentative at times but eventually rich and highly satisfying. In Little Emperors, the subject matter is as complex and expansive as the country that bore it, but in concentrating on a single family – pointedly leaving the father offstage – the creative team have managed to distill and sharpen the emotional impact. The perfidious and crippling effects of this massive social experiment are only beginning to reveal themselves, and art like this has a powerful role to play in the healing process.’ Tim Byrne, Timeout Melbourne
This bilingual play, set in Melbourne and Beijing, which tackles “the biggest social experiment in the history of the world” head on, could hardly be more comprehensible or familiar, or indeed likeable, to non-ethnic Chinese audiences. And the storytelling — the reveal of the intricately knotted family history — could hardly be better handled. Chris Boyd, The Australian
★★★★ ‘China’s One Child Policy may officially have ended last year, but its effects will be felt for decades to come. Little Emperors dives into some of the social implications through heightened, visually striking domestic melodrama.’ Cameron Woodhead, The AGE
‘Lachlan Philpot has done a brilliant job of magnifying the human element so easily lost in stories of far-reaching politics….Little Emperors, is an important play, a must see. It burns slow but crackles into a powerful ending.’ Matthew Toohey, Syn Nation
‘About once to twice a year, I see a show I know I am going to rave about for years to come- it’s early in 2017 but this is my hot pick for the show I cannot forget, and cannot stop talking about. Don’t miss this culturally significant, beautiful piece of theatre at the Malthouse’ Ellen Burgin Theatre People