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‘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, the children of the world’s next superpower were born bearing the weight of their parents’ expectation.

In 2016 China’s One Child Policy officially ended, and to mark the close of an era, we’ve teamed up with award-winning Australian writer Lachlan Philpott and one of Beijing’s most innovative directors, Wang Chong, to explore the stories, secrets and aspirations of the children of a radical political experiment. Set in both Melbourne and Beijing, and weaving between Mandarin and English, this rich and revelatory new play cuts through our assumptions to take us deep into the lives of a generation of only and secret children.


Wang Chong is a renowned 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. Works include Thunderstorm 2.0, listed by Beijing News as “one of the best 10 small theatre works in China during the last 30 years;” Ibsen in One Take, noted by Literary Life Weekly as “Top 10 performances of 2012 in China;” and The Flowers on the Sea 2.0, the first theatre production to be commissioned by China’s prestigious government-run Shanghai International Arts Festival.

About Lachlan Philpott

Little Emperors is Lachlan Philpott's first play at Malthouse Theatre. He is currently writing new work for The American Conservatory Theatre [San Francisco], The Comedie Francaise [Paris], Outburst and TheatreofplucK [Belfast], Merringong Theatre [Wollongong], The National Theatre of Croatia [Rijeka] and The Traverse Theatre [Edinburgh] and Dirty Films. His other plays include Bison, Bustown, Colder [R.E Ross Trust Award], Lake Disappointment, M.ROCK, promiscuous/cites, Silent Disco [Winner Griffin Award for Outstanding New Australian play, Winner GAP Competition Aurora Theatre Co. USA, Winner best stage play, Australian Writers Guild Awards] Truck Stop [Winner best play, young audiences Australian Writer’s Guild Awards] and The Trouble with Harry. His work is published by Currency and PlayLab in Australia and Oberon in the UK. Lachlan was the inaugural Australian Professional Playwright Fulbright Scholar and Chair of the Australian Writer’s Guild Playwrights’ Committee between 2012 and 2015. He is currently in residence at Cite des Artes Internationale Paris.


Global Times


Image credit: Courtesy of Zan Wimberley

Malthouse Theatre

A Malthouse Theatre production presented in association with Asia TOPA: Asia Pacific Triennale of Performing Arts. With producing support from Ping Pong Productions.

Little Emperors 小皇帝

Presented by Malthouse Theatre

Date & Time:

9 – 26 February 2017

Thursday 9 February, 8pm
Friday 10 February, 8pm
Saturday 11 February, 8pm
Monday 13 February, 7pm

Opening Night
Tuesday 14 February, 7pm

In Season
Wednesday 15 February, 8pm
Thursday 16 February, 8pm
Friday 17 February, 8pm
Saturday 18 February, 3:30pm
Saturday 18 February, 8pm
Tuesday 21 February, 7pm
Wednesday 22 February, 8pm
Thursday 23 February, 8pm
Friday 24 February, 8pm
Saturday 25 February, 3:30pm
Saturday 25 February, 8pm
Sunday 26 February, 6pm

Location: Malthouse Theatre



Standard: $59
Concession*: $45
Senior^: $54
Youth#: $35
3 Show Package: $50.15

In Season

Standard: $69
Concession*: $49
Senior^: $64
Youth#: $35
3 Show Package: $58.65

*Concession: any holder of government issued concession or pension card and MEAA Members

^Senior: Australian Senior card holder

#Youth: Full-time Student and Under 30

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