321 East 73rd Street, 3rd Floor

New York City, NY 10021

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The Power of the Powerless in China

panel discussion, Rehearsal for Truth Theater Festival 26 September, 2018 - 5:00 PM

[BBLA at Bohemian National Hall]


A panel discussion moderated by Carl Gershman, the President of the National Endowment for Democracy, with Liao Yiwu, the winner of the 2018 Disturbing the Peace, Award for a Courageous Writer at Risk organized by Vaclav Havel Library Foundation. The discussion will be further joined by Liu Xia, a fellow nominee, and Andrew Nathan, Professor of Political Science at Columbia University and a leading China specialist and human rights advocate. Translation: Wen Huang.


This event is part of the 2018 Rehearsal for Truth Theater Festival, the second edition of a unique festival presenting in New York City the best in Central European theater.


Liao Yiwu (aka Lao Wei) is a Chinese author, reporter, musician and poet. As a vocal critic of China’s Communist regime, he spent four years in prison after publicly reciting his poem Massacre in memory of the victims of the Tiananmen Square military on June 4, 1989. In his books The Corpse Walker and God is Red, Yiwu recounts the stunning life stories of ordinary men and women who live at the margins of Chinese society—Christian believers as well as oddballs and outcasts who have been battered by life and state repression yet who have managed to retain their irrepressible personality, invincible spirit, and innate human dignity. These stories raise the inevitable question that Vaclav Havel persistently posed as an underground playwright: Can a totalitarian state prevail against the human spirit it tries so hard to stifle? 


Liu Xia is a Chinese painter, poet and photographer. After substantial pressure from German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the international community, Liu Xia was finally given her freedom to leave China. She arrived in Berlin on July 10, three days before the anniversary of the death of her husband, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, who had been under unofficial and illegal house arrest for eight years. Although never charged with a crime, Liu Xia lost her freedom due to her husband’s eleven-year prison sentence for drafting a petition calling for democracy and human rights in China.


BBLA at Bohemian National Hall
321 East 73rd Street
New York, NY 10021


Free and open to the public. Seats are limited, on first-come, first-served basis. RSVP is required. Please reserve your seat online at eventbrite.com.


Rehearsal for Truth Theater Festival is organized by Vaclav Havel Library Foundation and BBLA, in partnership with Czech, Hungarian, Polish and Slovak performing arts institutions and cultural institutes to highlight Havel’s legacy as a playwright through live performances, panel discussions, exhibitions and an award ceremony. It seeks to establish exchanges between U.S. and Central European theater professionals. The festival reflects not only Havel’s contribution to 20th century theater but also his belief in the potential of Central European cultural traditions to enrich human existence in the modern age. Rehearsal for Truth Theater Festival is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Bohemian Benevolent & Literary AssociationHospodaThe National Czech and Slovak MuseumAmerican Friends of the Czech RepublicCzech CenterConsulate General