Chinese Boxing

By Mark Kitto

Directed by Henry Maynard and Marlie Haco

Saturday 24 September 2022, 7.30pm

As befits an Empire Hall, on Saturday 24 September, at 7.30pm, Sir Claude MacDonald, Her Majesty Queen Victoria’s former Minister Plenipotentiary to Peking, will be giving a lecture in the hall to the Graffam branch of the Royal Asiatic Society.

The year of the lecture is 1912. Sir Claude was in Peking in 1900 during the famous Boxer Uprising where he commanded the defence of the Legations – diplomatic quarter – when they were besieged by the peasant ‘Boxer’ army, supported by Imperial Chinese troops. The siege lasted 55 days until it was lifted by a multinational relief force. The episode was described in the newspapers of the day as ‘the most exciting episode ever known to civilization’. (It was also the subject of the 1963 epic film, ’55 Days at Peking’, with Charlton Heston and David Niven.)

Sir Claude wants to discuss China and the West ‘today’ – that’s 1912 for him, today for us. 1912 was the year of the foundation of the Republic of China; a new country, a rising power the world must accommodate. Sound familiar?

Sir Claude starts by ‘taking you back to Peking’ in 1900 and he does just that, to the Imperial Palace, where you hear the story from the Chinese side. It is not straightforward and will challenge your view of the past… and the present.

‘Chinese Boxing’ is a bold and innovative piece of theatre that tackles one of the urgent questions of modern times: can China and the West get along? And it tackles it from both sides, no punches pulled.

After an opportunity to top up your glass, the performance is followed by a Q and A about China and Britain today. Mark Kitto, as well as being a writer and actor, is a respected China pundit.

Here are some comments about the show so far.

‘Entrancing… incredibly powerful.’ Carla Phillips, Eastern Daily Press

‘Everyone should watch this.’ Former cabinet minister, Baroness Gillian Shephard

‘A stimulating and original show – I learned tons.’ Jonathan Freedland, Guardian/Radio 4

‘Historically fascinating, beautifully written.’ David Haig

Running Time 70 minutes with no interval, followed by Q and A

Recommended for ages 14+


More info about the show:


Starts On

24th September 2022 - 7:30 pm

Ends On

10:00 pm



Event Categories

Music and Drama

Event Tags

China, Mark Kitto, Theatre