Tony Award winner and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly) is having a banner summer in Chicago, where three of his plays are being produced.
From June 14-July 17, the Silk Road Theatre Project is presenting the Chicago premiere of Hwang’s semi-autobiographical Yellow Face, directed by Steve Scott at The Historic Chicago Temple Building in collaboration with the Goodman Theatre; from June 18-July 24, the Goodman Theatre is presenting the world premiere of Hwang’s Chinglish, a razor-sharp new comedy about the challenges of doing business in a culture worlds apart from our own, directed by Leigh Silverman in the Albert Theatre; and from August 11-September 4, the Halcyon Theatre is presenting Hwang’s Family Devotions, a comedy where chaos ensues when three generations of an Asian-American family welcome their patriarch from Communist China, directed by Jennifer Adams at the Greenhouse Theater Center.
During the first weekend in June, I was in Chicago to see André De Shields in Charles Smith’s The Gospel According to James, directed by Chuck Smith at the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, when Hwang and Silverman graciously agreed to let me come photodocument a rehearsal in the Healy Rehearsal room, for my newly created collection at the Library of Congress – the Lia Chang Asian Pacific American Theater and Other Works Portfolio, which will be on display in Washington D.C. from July 23-30, 2011.
Chinglish is Hwang’s second collaboration on a world premiere with Obie Award-winning director Leigh Silverman, following Yellow Face at Center Theater Group and The Public Theater. Chinglish, performed in a blend of English and Mandarin (with English surtitles), is currently in previews, with an official opening night set for June 27 in the Goodman’s Albert Theatre, with performances continuing through July 24, 2011.
“Few plays in recent years have delighted me as much as Chinglish,” said Goodman Artistic Director Robert Falls. “With a career spanning more than three decades and a canon that incorporates an array of genres, David is one of the luminaries of contemporary American theater. I have admired his work since long before our collaboration on the Broadway musical Aida, and it is a thrill to welcome him to the Goodman for the first time.”
“The U.S. and China are at a critical moment in history—each nation is deeply interested in, but knows very little about, the other,” said Hwang. “Chinglish was born from the many visits I’ve made to China over the past five or six years to witness the exciting changes there.
During one particular visit with Joanna C. Lee and Ken Smith, Hwang’s Cultural Advisors on Chinglish, he related, “I toured a new arts center where everything was first-rate—except for the ridiculously translated English signs. It was at that moment when I thought of writing this play.”
Daniel (James Waterston), a Midwestern American businessman who’s desperately looking to score a lucrative contact for his family’s sign-making firm, travels to the provincial capital of Guiyang, only to learn how much he doesn’t understand: his translators are unreliable, his Australian-born consultant, Peter (Stephen Pucci), may be a fraud, and he is captivated by Xu Yan (Jennifer Lim), the beautiful, seemingly supportive government official who talks the talk—but what is she saying, anyway? The seven-member cast of Chinglish also includes Larry Zhang as Cai Guoliang, the Minister of Culture in Guiyang; Christine Lin as the Minister’s translator, Mrs. Zhao; Angela Lin as Miss Qian and Prosecutor Li; and Johnny Wu as Judge Xu Geming and Bing.
The award-winning creative team for Chinglish includes Set Designer David Korins (Broadway: Lombardi, Passing Strange), Costume Designer Anita Yavich (Broadway: Anna in the Tropics), Lighting Designer Brian MacDevitt (Goodman: Long Day’s Journey into Night), Sound Designer Darron West (Broadway: Time Stands Still); Projections Designer Jeff Sugg (Broadway: 33 Variations); Dramaturg Tanya Palmer (Goodman: Ruined, The Long Red Road), Production Stage Manager Alden Vasquez (Goodman: A Christmas Carol; Broadway: The Song of Jacob Zulu) and Translator Candace Chong.
June 18-July 24 (Opening Night is June 27)
170 North Dearborn
Tickets are tickets are $25 – $73 (prices are subject to change) and can be purchased at GoodmanTheatre.org, at the box office (170 N. Dearborn) or by phone: 312.443.3800.
June 14 – July 17
The Historic Chicago Temple Building
77 W. Washington
Tickets are $34 and can be purchased at GoodmanTheatre.org, at the box office (170 N. Dearborn) or by phone: 312.443.3800.
August 11-September 4
Halcyon Theatre at the Greenhouse Theater Center
2257 North Lincoln
David Henry Hwang Articles:
Judges for 2010-2011 Village Voice Obie Awards include Feingold, Soloski, Als, Hwang, Yionoulis and Propst; Ceremony on 5/16
Yellow Face Reading & Book Signing w/ David Henry Hwang, Kathryn Layng, Francis Jue, w/ guest Edward Albee David Henry Hwang, Francis Jue, Kathryn Layng and Edward Albee: YELLOW FACE Reading Book Signing at The Drama Book Shop on 12/10
Multimedia: George Takei, Nancy Kwan, Lisa Lu and Tsai Chin attend Hollywood Chinese: The Arthur Dong Collection Exhibition Opening Night
The Chinese American Museum partners with Academy award nominated filmmaker Arthur Dong on a groundbreaking exhibition about Hollywood’s forgotten past
David Henry Hwang’s YELLOW FACE Starring Francis Jue, Pub Bandu and Thomas Azar at Theatreworks through 9/20
In Arthur Dong’s Hollywood Chinese, Chinese Tinseltown Tales told by Asian Silver Screen Icons
David Henry Hwang, Kathryn Layng and BD Wong at the Asian American Writers Workshop Literary Awards
Nothing is Sacred in David Henry Hwang’s Comedy of Mistaken Racial Identity
Francis Jue, At Home on the Stage
Flower Drum Song: An American Story