Public Theater

Yellow Face by David Hwang

Yellow Face  at the Public Theatre. Photo by Michal Daniel

Yellow Face at the Public Theatre. Photo by Michal Daniel

Inspired by the 1990s Broadway controversy over the “yellow face” casting of Welsh actor Jonathan Pryce as a Eurasian pimp in the musical Miss Saigon, Yellow Face spins a comic fantasy in which Asian American playwright DHH pens a play in protest, then unwittingly casts a white actor as the Asian lead in his own play.

Yellow Face premiered at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles in 2007, directed by Leigh Silverman, then moved to the Public Theater. It won a 2008 Obie Award for Playwriting and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. It premiered in London at the Park Theatre in 2013, in a production directed by Alex Sims, which transferred to the National Theatre in 2014.

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Production photos of Yellow Face at the Public Theatre in 2007. Photos by Michal Daniel

Production photos from Yellow Face at the Silk Road Rising. Photos by Michael Brosilow

The House of Sleeping Beauties by David Hwang

Natsuko Ohama, Ching Valdes-Aran, John Lone, Elizabeth Sung, Victor Wong, and DHH. Photo by Martha Swope.

Natsuko Ohama, Ching Valdes-Aran, John Lone, Elizabeth Sung, Victor Wong, and DHH. Photo by Martha Swope.

The House of Sleeping Beauties is an adaptation of the novella by Nobel Prize winning author Yasunari Kawabata. An elderly man visits a unique brothel filled with sleeping young women. The customers are permitted only to sleep, but not have sex, with the girls, as they fantasize about what it was like to be young.

The House of Sleeping Beauties premiered at the Public Theater in 1983, directed by John Lone with Lenore Kletter.

 

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The Sound of a Voice by David Hwang

Masanari Kawahara and Maria Chen in Mu Performing Arts, 1996

Masanari Kawahara and Maria Chen in Mu Performing Arts, 1996

Inspired by Japanese ghost stories, The Sound of a Voice tells of a lone samurai warrior who goes into the woods to kill a woman rumored to be a witch, but ends up falling in love with her instead.

The Sound of a Voice premiered at the Public Theater in 1983, directed by John Lone with Lenore Kletter.

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Family Devotions by David Hwang

Actors (L-R) Victor Wong, Jim Ishida, Michael Paul Chan, Helen Funai, Tina Chen, June Kim, Jodi Long, Lauren Tom and Marc Hayashi in a scene from the New York Shakespeare Festival's production of  Family Devotions . Photo by Martha Swope, Courtesy NYPL.

Actors (L-R) Victor Wong, Jim Ishida, Michael Paul Chan, Helen Funai, Tina Chen, June Kim, Jodi Long, Lauren Tom and Marc Hayashi in a scene from the New York Shakespeare Festival's production of Family Devotions. Photo by Martha Swope, Courtesy NYPL.

Family Devotions depicts a clash of West and East among three generations of an Americanized Chinese family in a Los Angeles suburb. Ama and Popo, two elderly and devoutly Christian Chinese sisters, live with their Americanized children in Bel Air. Their grandchildren Jenny and Chester seek to escape superficial world of their parents. The whole family eagerly awaits a visit from Di-Gou, the brother whom the sisters have not seen in over thirty years. When he arrives, it is clear he is not the man his sisters remember.

Family Devotions premiered at the Public Theater in 1981, directed by Robert Alan Ackerman. It received a 1982 Drama Desk Nomination for Best New Play.

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The Dance and the Railroad by David Hwang

William Yuekun Wu and Ruy Iskandar. Photo by Joan Marcus for Signature Theatre, 2013

William Yuekun Wu and Ruy Iskandar. Photo by Joan Marcus for Signature Theatre, 2013

Set against the backdrop of the Chinese American railroad workers’ strike of 1867, The Dance and the Railroad rejects the stereotype of submissive immigrant laborers, and depicts assertive men who demanded their rights despite great personal risk. The play compares the optimistic and idealistic Ma to the pragmatic and independent Lone, and juxtaposes the hard labor of working on the railroad with the dream to practice traditional Chinese Opera.

The Dance and the Railroad premiered at the New Federal Theatre in 1981, directed by John Lone, before moving to the Public Theater, and received a 1982 Drama Desk Nomination for Best New Play. It was revived at Signature Theatre in 2013, directed by May Adrales, in a production which received its Chinese premiere at the Wuzhen Festival later that year.


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Photos from the 2013 revival at Signature Theatre. Photos by Joan Marcus.

Photos from the 1981 production at the Public Theatre. Photos by Martha Swope.