The Worlds of David Henry Hwang: A Symposium & Public Reading

Department: Asian American Studies

Date and Time: November 14, 2019 | 1:00 PM-6:30 PM

Event Location: Crystal Cove Auditorium A, UCI Student Center

Event Details

Thursday, November 14

Prologue and Talk with David Henry Hwang
When: 5:00 - 6:30 p.m. | Where: UCI Student Center, Crystal Cove Auditorium
David Henry Hwang's talk will follow a brief "prologue" performed by Theatre Woks, UCI's Asian American theatre group. His talk will be followed by a book-signing.
RSVP here.

Afternoon Symposium
When: 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. | Where: UCI Student Center, Aliso Beach A
Please also join us for a symposium about his works, "The Worlds of David Henry Hwang," featuring Esther Kim Lee (Duke University, Theater Studies), Daphne Lei (UCI Drama) and Julia Lee (UCI Asian American Studies), moderated by Ketu Katrak (UCI Drama).

Esther Kim Lee—
"The Many Faces of DHH: David Henry Hwang and Asian American Theatre"
The talk examines David Henry Hwang’s alter-ego DHH, who appears as a fictional character in the plays Yellow Face and Soft Power. It explores how Hwang uses DHH as a meta-theatrical device to dramatize the Asian American experience in ironic and humorous ways.

Daphne Lei (Drama)—
“Chin/English please! Transnationalizing Asian American Theatre”

Julia Lee (Asian American Studies)—
"The Railroad as Performance in David Henry Hwang's The Dance and the Railroad”

RSVP here.

Few writers have turned issues around ethnicity and identity into a widely acclaimed and award-winning career like David Henry Hwang. In addition to his distinguished career as a playwright, Hwang is an active and award-winning opera and musical librettist whose work has appeared on Broadway and at the Metropolitan Opera. In 2014, Hwang was named head of the M.F.A. playwriting program at Columbia University. He serves as the current chair of the American Theater Wing, which founded and co-presents the Tony Awards.

About David Henry Hwang

He is best known as the author of M. Butterfly (1988), a play inspired by a real-life incident involving a French diplomat and an opera singer from China, which bears resemblance of Puccini's Madam Butterfly. M Butterfly won the Tony Award, Drama Desk Award, John Gassner Award, and Outer Critics Circle Award, and was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. The play has been staged in over four dozen countries and was the basis for a major motion picture starring Jeremy Irons and John Lone. In late 2017, M. Butterfly was revived on Broadway, directed by Julie Taymor. As arguably the most anthologized Asian American play, M Butterfly is frequently taught in UCI courses. In the past spring, more than 100 UCI students were able to attend the performance of M. Butterfly at the South Coast Repertory through Illuminations.

He is the author of many other award-winning works for the stage. Golden Child, premiered Off-Broadway at the Joseph Papp Public Theater in 1996, received an Obie Award, and subsequently played on Broadway, where it received three Tony nominations. Chinglish, Hwang’s first bilingual play, premiered at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, where it won a 2011 Jefferson Award for Best New Work, before moving to Broadway and being named Best New American Play of 2011 by Time Magazine. Yellow Face, which premiered at Los Angeles’ Mark Taper Forum and New York's Public Theater in 2007, also won an Obie Award, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. In 2018, Yellow Face was named one of the best American plays of the past 25 years by the New York Times. Soft Power, with composer Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home), directed by Leigh Silverman, premiered in spring 2018 at Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles and will open in New York in 2019. Soft Power received six L.A. Ovation Awards in 2019. Other plays from Hwang's 30 year career include FOB (Obie Award), The Dance & the Railroad (Drama Desk Nomination, CINE Golden Eagle Award), and Family Devotions (Drama Desk Nomination). Hwang was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame in 2018.

Hwang is also a prolific screenwriter, television writer and librettist. Works in music categories range from experimental works with Philip Glass (such as The Sound of a Voice and 100 Airplanes on the Roof), reimagined traditional stories (such as the Chinese classic The Dream of Red Chamber), opera (Grammy-winning Ainadamar) and musicals (such as Flower Drum Song and Soft Power). He also co-wrote the Gold Record Solo with the late pop star Prince.