A musical extravaganza written by Anna Chen
Poems: After Kipling: Apology for the First Opium War by John Constable AKA John Crow
The Case For Free Trade by Paul Anderson
The Royal War Decree by Louise Whittle
The Case Against The First Opium War by John Paul O’Neill
BOOK & LYRICS by Anna Chen
MUSIC by Anna Chen and Charles Shaar Murray with Marc Jefferies
The Steampunk Opium Wars pages:
Cast: Portraits and Poems
The Company: who we are and how to find us.
Gallery: debut performance at the National Maritime Museum.
VIDEO: Lin Zexu Just Says No!
VIDEO: Sir Jardine-Matheson “The Case for Free Trade”
VIDEO: Lord Palmerston declares war on China
VIDEO: Britannia sings “Money”
VIDEO: Gary Lammin presents the Hackney Tea Ceremony
“Invigorating, engrossing, witty, passionate and righteous – they should put Anna Chen’s The Steampunk Opium Wars on the school history curriculum.” Ben Chu of the Independent
” … a novelty in politically charged entertainment, defies easy analysis. … not so much political entertainment as politicising entertainment. … You can’t really ask for more.” Ben Chacko in the Morning Star
The Steampunk Opium Wars is a schtonking great epic with a fascinating cast of characters from belligerent freetraders in Parliament, East India Company buccaneers and complacent English businessmen in Canton to the honest lawman Lin Zexu, progressive Parliamentarians like Richard Cobden and William Gladstone, plus corrupt Mandarins and Chinese pirates.
Britain’s craving for chinoiserie in the 18th and 19th centuries resulted in a trade imbalance that threatened to empty the treasury. To pay for the tea, silks, spices and porcelain we liked so much, the East India Company sold enormous quantities of cheap Bengal-grown opium to China, turning an aristocratic vice into a nationwide addiction.
The profits from the opium trade made fortunes, earned revenues for the British government, paid for the administration of the Empire in India and even financed a large slice of Royal Navy costs. When the Chinese tried to halt the import of the drug, the narco-capitalists persuaded Foreign Secretary Palmerston and Lord Melbourne’s government to go to war in 1839. The first military conflict, lasting a bloody three years, resulted in the Treaty of Nanking and the transfer of territory including Hong Kong to British rule.
In The Steampunk Opium Wars, poet Anna Chen brings you a satirical extravaganza about China, Britain, imperialism and drugs in the 19th century in verse & music. See narco-capitalists & Chinese lawmakers slug it out, take part in a poetry slam, and watch the weirdest tea ceremony ever.
DEBUT PERFORMANCE National Maritime Museum, Greenwich
6.30-10pm, Thursday 16th February 2012
What do the humble cup of tea and the opium poppy have in common?
A dastardly tale of imperialism, drugs and warfare, the story of this dark episode in British history is told in The Steampunk Opium Wars, revue written and hosted by Anna Chen inside the belly of the beast, the heart of Empire, the Royal National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.
Government narco-capitalists and Chinese law-enforcers slug it out in verse, and members of the audience have the chance to write and take part in a Farrago Poetry History Slam.
With music from legendary writer Charles Shaar Murray and The Plague’s Marc “The Exorcist” Jefferies; former Flying Lizards singer Deborah Evans-Stickland singing her mega-hit “Money”; DJ Zoe “Lucky Cat” Baxter of Resonance FM; and Gary Lammin of The Bermondsey Joyriders in the weirdest tea ceremony you’ve ever seen.
Featuring Paul Anderson, John Crow Constable, Neil Hornick, John Paul O’Neill, Hugo Trebels, and Louise Whittle. The poets will have their portraits and poetic extravagances posted in their own page here after the event.
Have your photograph taken in your finest steampunk paraphernalia on stage by Mrs Sukey Parnell, who has exhibited in the National Portrait Gallery, and maybe see it displayed on the interwebz.
Come and play with us …
The Steampunk Opium Wars on Facebook
Who we are and how to find us, click here
Bibliography: The Blood Never Dried by John Newsinger (Bookmarks); Opium by Martin Booth (Simon & Schuster Ltd); The Opium War by Julia Lovell (Picador). Interesting online articles by Justin Kiersky at the Border Arts Project, a Chinese health and education project helping young people whose families have been affected by drug abuse and HIV/Aids.
This stuff is still going on.
Drugs money saved banks in global crisis in 2007.
Banks and drugs in the modern world.
Niall Ferguson and Civilisation