This edition: David Henry Hwang, playwright ("Yellow Face") and librettist ("The Fly"), Pt. 1 of 2Tweet
First aired: May 14, 2008.
David Henry Hwang, is the author of M. Butterfly (1988 Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Awards, Pulitzer finalist), Golden Child (1998 Tony nomination, 1997 OBIE Award), FOB (1981 OBIE Award), The Dance and the Railroad (Drama Desk nomination), Family Devotions (Drama Desk Nomination), Sound and Beauty, and Bondage. His newest play, Yellow Face, which premiered at Los Angeles' Mark Taper Forum and New York's Public Theatre, won a 2008 OBIE Award and was a Finalist for the 2008 Pulitzer Prize.
He wrote the scripts for the Broadway musicals Elton John and Tim Rice's Aida, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Flower Drum Song (2002 revival, 2003 Tony nomination), and Disney's Tarzan. His opera libretti include three works for composer Philip Glass, 1000 Airplanes on the Roof, The Voyage (Metropolitan Opera), and The Sound of a Voice; as well as Bright Sheng's The Silver River, Osvaldo Golijov's Ainadamar (two 2007 Grammy Awards) and Unsuk Chin's Alice In Wonderland (Opernwelt's 2007 "World Premiere of the Year").
The enigmatic and multifaceted playwright, screenwriter, librettist, Mr. Hwang is equally at home on stage and in film, often examining questions of sexual, racial, and social identities. His work strikes a deep chord in a contemporary world that is obsessed with difficulties of communicating across the same divides as Hwang’s characters.
In The Dance and The Railroad he named a character “Lone,” which was played by John Lone. And in Yellow Face he had a character he named Henry David Hwang.
Hwang is equally fascinated with metatheatrical questions, freely breaking the Fourth Wall, whether via Brecht, Pirandello or Chinese and Japanese theatre we don’t know. His questions become ever deeper until Yellow Face, a mockumentary combining real events in Hwang’s life with fictional events.
David Henry Hwang, whose work we first encountered in M. Butterfly, has like the butterfly developed in his cocoon and then broke free and flown away, beautiful, fascinating, and complex.