Tony Award for best play

This 30-Year-Old Play About Gender And Asian Identity Is More Relevant Than Ever by David Hwang

Jin Ha as Song Liling. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Jin Ha as Song Liling. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

When M. Butterfly premiered on Broadway in 1988, audiences were stunned to discover that the central character, Song Liling, was actually a man. Nearly 30 years later, as the revival runs at the Cort Theatre, the cat is out of the bag.

The story of M. Butterfly, which won three Tony Awards including Best Play, is now more well known than the real-life story it was based on — the affair between French diplomat Bernard Boursicot and Peking opera singer Shi Pei Pu. The culture has also progressed, and with it our language and sensitivity surrounding gender identity: The reveal of a character’s gender as a surprise twist, once a feature of M. Butterfly, now seems like a dangerously regressive relic.

That’s something playwright David Henry Hwang was well-aware of when he set about revising his play for a new production directed by Julie Taymor. In revisiting his seminal work, Hwang undertook a heavy rewrite, one in which Song’s gender is addressed early on — and the themes of toxic masculinity and Asian gender stereotypes are as clear as ever.

Read the full story at Buzzfeed.

Behind the Scenes of the Long-Awaited Revival M. Butterfly by David Hwang

M. Butterfly  co-stars Clive Owen and Jin Ha, photographed in London.Photograph by Julian Broad.

M. Butterfly co-stars Clive Owen and Jin Ha, photographed in London.Photograph by Julian Broad.

"The succès de scandale of the 1988–89 Broadway season, David Henry Hwang’s M. Butterfly tells of a French diplomat whose politically ill-advised affair with an androgynous performer in the Chinese opera takes him places he never imagined, including prison. Deftly exploring Western stereotyping of Asians, M. Butterfly won the 1988 Tony Award for best play and ran for an astonishing 777 performances."

Read more at Vanityfair.com