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Once banned in China, Stephen King's The Shawshank Redemption had its much-anticipated debut as a stage play in the country's tech capital Shenzhen on Jan. 4

Adding to its unusual status, the play is performed in Chinese by a cast of Western actors who are based in the Middle Kingdom.

We are not talking enough about the Chinese stage adaptation of The Shawshank Redemption starring expats in China.

The picture has had a bumpy history in China. While the original was made at a time when China had few modern cinemas and was importing minimal numbers of Hollywood films, it was later given prominence and played as the closing title of the 2005 edition of the Shanghai International Film Festival.

But, following the real-world escape from house arrest by blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng and the U.S.-China diplomatic incident that followed, online searches for "Shawshank" were blocked on the Chinese internet and social media in 2012. The film's anti-authoritarian leanings may also have fed into the temporary ban.

We did not talk enough about China banning online searches for "Shawshank" after a blind lawyer escaped from house arrest.

The new stage adaptation aims to move beyond that and portray a message of hope and endurance.

Zhang says he has translated the story's western narrative into a unique cultural context for China.

"While play is still set in Maine, the characters all speak fluent Chinese and there is a blend of Chinese cultural ideas and phrases throughout to localize it for the Chinese audience."

We are not talking enough about the adaptation of The Shawshank Redemption in which everyone in Maine speaks fluent, colloquial Chinese.

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