In 2016, China’s One Child Policy officially ended after a reign of nearly 40 years. To mark the close of an era, Malthouse Theatre is teaming up with award-winning Australian writer Lachlan Philpott and one of Beijing’s most innovative young directors, Wang Chong, to explore the stories, struggles and aspirations of the children of this radical political experiment.

Set in Melbourne and Beijing, and weaving between Mandarin and English, the world premiere of Little Emperors is the story of a sister, her illegal brother and how a generation of children is shaping the culture of the world’s next superpower.

‘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 brothers and sisters. Pampered, entitled, and bucking against China’s proud tradition of filial piety, these golden children were born to a globalised future, shouldering the weight of their parents’ expectations.

Wang Chong is a highly acclaimed, experimental theatre maker, known for his exploration of politically subversive ideas in China and abroad. Founder of the world-renowned Théâtre du Rêve Expérimental, Chong’s work is characterised by radical interpretations of classic Western plays and the use of cutting-edge digital technology.

Feb. 9 – 26