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Madame Mao

A Play by Therese Radic

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Madame Mao


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A Play by Therese Radic, performed in the Liverpool Playhouse in 1989
Based on the reign of Mao Tse-Tung and about Chinese politics, war and political repression. 

Jiang Qing, also known as Madame Mao, was a Chinese Communist Revolutionary, actress, and major political figure during the Cultural Revolution (1966–76). She was the fourth wife of Mao Zedong, the Chairman of the Communist Party and Paramount leader of China. She used the stage name Lan Ping (藍蘋) during her acting career (which ended in 1938), and was known by many other names. She married Mao in Yan'an in November 1938 and served as the inaugural "First Lady" of the People's Republic of China. Jiang Qing was best known for playing a major role in the Cultural Revolution and for forming the radical political alliance known as the "Gang of Four". Jiang Qing served as Mao's personal secretary in the 1940s and was head of the Film Section of the Communist Party's Propaganda Department in the 1950s. She served as an important emissary for Mao in the early stages of the Cultural Revolution. In 1966 she was appointed deputy director of the Central Cultural Revolution Group. She collaborated with Lin Biao to advance Mao's unique brand of Communist ideology as well as Mao's cult of personality.

At the height of the Cultural Revolution, Jiang Qing held significant influence in the affairs of state, particularly in the realm of culture and the arts, and was idolized in propaganda posters as the "Great Flagbearer of the Proletarian Revolution". In 1969, Jiang gained a seat on the Politburo. Before Mao's death, the Gang of Four controlled many of China's political institutions, including the media and propaganda. However, Jiang Qing, deriving most of her political legitimacy from Mao, often found herself at odds with other top leaders.

Mao's death in 1976 dealt a significant blow to Jiang Qing's political fortunes. She was arrested in October 1976 by Hua Guofeng and his allies, and was subsequently condemned by party authorities. Since then, Jiang Qing has been officially branded as having been part of the "Lin Biao and Jiang Qing Counter-Revolutionary Cliques, to which most of the blame for the damage and devastation caused by the Cultural Revolution was assigned. Though she was initially sentenced to death, her sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 1983. After being released for medical treatment, Jiang Qing committed suicide in May 1991.

Cast :

Court Official: Amanda Lines
Gaoler: Ed Stobart
He Zizhen: Carol Noakes
Jiang Quing: Tsai Chin
Ke: Giles Thomas
Mao Tse-tung: Tony Steedman
Mother: Diane Adderley

Chris Walton
Sister Xu: Noreen Kershaw
Sound Designer: Mark Armstrong, Zhou Enlai, Peter Bailey

Composer : Patrick Dineen
Designer: Laurie Dennett
Director: Peter Oyston
Lighting Designer: Johanna Town

Thérèse Radic is the author and editor of ten books, 16 plays and numerous articles, monographs, chapters and reviews on aspects of Australian music history. She has been a lecturer, broadcaster, course designer and music consultant for museums, galleries, celebratory events, film, television and the stage and sat on too many committees.

Her plays include The Emperor Regrets, Peach Melba, Madame Mao, A Whip Round for Percy Grainger, all first produced by the Playbox Theatre Company, all appearing nationally and published by Currency Press and Yackandandah.

Some of My Best Friends are Women (with Leonard Radic), was premiered by the MTC. Madame Mao has been produced in the USA and UK. Peach Melba was shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards.

She is currently an Associate Professor and an Honorary Principal Research Fellow in the Faculty of the VCA and Music at the University of Melbourne, where she is writing a history of music as propaganda in colonial Australia.


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