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In Conversation with David Henry Hwang

Playwrights’ Corner
When you're forced to deal with things you don't understand, the thing actually comes alive more than when you're controlling it."

On November 14, 2017, Lark Board Member Deborah McAlister hosted a salon in her home to honor Playwright and fellow Board Member David Henry Hwang 
(Chinglish), and celebrate the Broadway revival of his play M. Butterfly, which is directed by Julie Taymor and stars Jin Ha and Clive Owen. During the evening, David sat down with Bruce Cohen, Lark Board Member and theater and film producer (Silver Linings Playbook, Milk), to discuss why now was the right time to bring back this particular play.

The story is based on the real life affair between French diplomat Bernard Boursicot and Peking opera singer Shi Pei Pu, and while the original production hinged on reveals that Shi turned out to be both a spy and a man (don't worry, these aren't spoilers and if you watch the video you'll see why), David states the new production "creates an opportunity, which is to try and reengage with the material." Part of the process included developing a significant rewrite (a large part of which was workshopped at The Lark) to address the way our society's attitude towards gender has shifted since the play's original run in 1988, as well as to incorporate new information about Boursicot and Shi, which was popularized as a result of the success of the original production.

David also discusses the collaborative process of theater making, how his identity as an Asian American artist influences his work, and writing from the subconscious. Watch the video and listen to the conversation in full above! To learn more about the current Broadway revival, visit mbutterflybroadway.com.

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