Soft Power by David Hwang

SOFT POWER

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SOFT POWER

By David Henry Hwang & Jeanine Tesori

What begins as a comedy set in 2016 Los Angeles, suddenly jumps 100 years into the future, where the scene we just witnessed has been mythologized as the basis of a beloved Chinese musical. A Chinese executive finds himself falling in love with a good-hearted American leader, as the power balance between their two nations shifts, and a new world order arrives. Soft Power imagines what the world -- and the musical -- might become once China gains international cultural dominance, or “soft power.” A Center Theatre Group commission and the first collaboration between Hwang and Tony Award-winning composer Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home), the production, directed by Leigh Silverman, will premiere at Los Angeles’ Ahmanson Theatre in May 2018, before traveling to the Curran Theatre in San Francisco.

SOFT POWER makes its New York premiere at The Public September 24 - November 3

Learn more about upcoming productions

Dream of the Red Chamber by David Hwang

Libretto by David Henry Hwang and Bright Sheng
Music by Bright Sheng
Based on the book by Cao Xueqin

The company of  Dream of the Red Chamber . Photo by Cory Weaver for the San Francisco Opera.

The company of Dream of the Red Chamber. Photo by Cory Weaver for the San Francisco Opera.

Based on the book by 18th-century Qing Dynasty writer Cao Xueqin, Dream of the Red Chamber (also known as The Story of the Stone) is one of the four great classical Chinese novels, considered by many to be the pinnacle of  Chinese literature.  Dream of the Red Chamber was commissioned by San Francisco Opera and premiered there in 2016, directed by Stan Lai, in a coproduction with the Hong Kong Arts Festival, which presented the work in spring 2017, prior to a fall tour of Mainland China.

Yijie Shi and Pureum Jo. Photo by Cory Weaver for the San Francisco Opera.

Yijie Shi and Pureum Jo. Photo by Cory Weaver for the San Francisco Opera.

An American Soldier by David Hwang

AN AMERICAN SOLDIER

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Libretto by David Henry Hwang
Music by Huang Ruo

On October 3, 2011, Chinese-American Army Pvt. Danny Chen was found dead in a guard tower at his base in Kandahar province, Afghanistan. Based on his story, and drawing from the ensuing courts-martial of Chen's fellow soldiers, An American Soldierexplores what happens when the very people who are supposed to protect you in a combat zone become your enemy.

An American Soldier was commissioned by the Washington National Opera, and premiered as a one hour-long work, performed in English in 2014, directed by David Paul. The full-length version premiered in 2018 at Opera Theatre of St. Louis, directed by James Robinson.

Icarus at the Edge of Time by David Hwang

ICARUS AT THE EDGE OF TIME

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Libretto by David Henry Hwang and Brian Greene
Music by Philip Glass
Film by AL + AL

Based on the novella by renowned theoretical physicist Brian Greene, Icarus at the Edge of Time re-imagines the well-known Greek myth as a space age story of a boy who goes against authority by flying too close to a black hole. Icarus at the Edge of Timepremiered at Lincoln Center as part of the World Science Festival, in 2010, directed by Jude Kelly. It was presented at the Southbank Centre in London that same year, and has toured internationally.

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The Fly by David Hwang

THE FLY

Daniel Okulitch as Seth Brundle in The Fly. Photo by Robert Millard for the Los Angeles Opera, 2008

Daniel Okulitch as Seth Brundle in The Fly. Photo by Robert Millard for the Los Angeles Opera, 2008

Libretto by David Henry Hwang
Music by Howard Shore    

The opera is loosely based on David Cronenberg's 1986 film The Fly, which was based on the short story of the same name by George Langelaan.

The Fly is an exploration of the physical and psychological transformation in which a brilliant scientist begins to mutate into a hybrid of man and fly after one of his experiments goes horribly wrong. The Fly premiered in Paris at Théâtre du Châtelet and in the United States in at the Los Angeles Opera in 2008, in a production directed by David Cronenberg. It was co-commissioned by both companies.

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Alice In Wonderland by David Hwang

ALICE IN WONDERFUL

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Libretto by David Henry Hwang and Unsuk Chin
Music by Unsuk Chin

Based on Lewis Carroll's novel, Alice in Wonderland premiered at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich in 2007, in a production directed by Achim Freyer. In a survey of the German music magazine Opernwelt’s opera critics, the opera was hailed as the "World Première of the Year”.

Ainadamar by David Hwang

AINADAMAR

© Ken Howard for Santa Fe Opera, 2005.

© Ken Howard for Santa Fe Opera, 2005.

Libretto by David Henry Hwang            
Music by Osvaldo Golijov

Ainadamar tells the story of playwright Federico García Lorca and his producer and muse, Catalan actress Margarita Xirgu, including Lorca’s murder by the Falange. The male Lorca is played by a woman as a “trousers role,” adding another dimension to the exploration of sexuality and gender.

Ainadamar premiered at Tanglewood Music Center in 2003, directed by Chay Yew. A revised version was later presented at the Santa Fe Opera in 2005, directed by Peter Sellars, and has been performed extensively throughout the world. Its recording on Deutsche Grammophone won two 2006 Grammy Awards, for Best Opera Recording and Best Classical Contemporary Composition.

Photos from the Santa Fe Opera production, 2005.

Production reel from Opera Parallèle production, 2013

The Sound of a Voice by David Hwang

THE SOUND OF A VOICE

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Libretto by David Henry Hwang
Music by Philip Glass

Based on Hwang’s play of the same name, The Sound of a Voice explores intimacy between people who have lived in seclusion. In the first part, an aging Japanese warrior arrives at the home of a mysterious woman who lives like a hermit deep in the woods. Has he come as her suitor, or her assassin? In the second part, an elderly Japanese writer visits a mysterious brothel, which caters to men near the end of their lives by providing them with a means to relive their youth.

The Sound of a Voice premiered in 2003 at Boston’s American Repertory Theatre, directed by Robert Woodruff, produced in association with the Court Theatre in Chicago.

The Silver River by David Hwang

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THE SILVER RIVER

Libretto by David Henry Hwang
Music by Bright Sheng

Based on an 4,000-year-old Chinese folktale about the creation of night and day, The Silver River tells a story of a forbidden love between a Goddess Weaver and a mortal man.

The Silver River was commissioned by the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, where it premiered in 1997, directed by Lisa Peterson. An expanded version opened at the Spoleto Festival in 2002, directed by Ong Keng Sen, in a coproduction with the Lincoln Center Festival in New York City.

The Voyage by David Hwang

THE VOYAGE

The Voyage  at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Photo by Winnie Klotz.

The Voyage at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Photo by Winnie Klotz.

Libretto by David Henry Hwang
Music by Philip Glass

Alternating between the exploration of space, and Columbus’ exploration of the seas, A Voyage is a general study of exploration - of the oceans, of space and time and of the mind.

The Voyage was commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera in New York City and premiered there in 1992, directed by David Poutney.

1000 Airplanes on the Roof by David Hwang

1000 AIRPLANES ON THE ROOF

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Text by David Henry Hwang
Created with Philip Glass & Jerome Sirlin

1000 Airplanes on the Roof is the story of “M.,” a New Yorker who is abducted by aliens, probed and questioned, then returned to Earth and told to forget the event. The ambiguity of M.’s experience – was it real or hallucinated? – is never fully resolved; it is a parable on contemporary’s man’s search for identity in a bewildering world. 

Originally presented in the Vienna Airport, Hanger #3 in 1988, directed by Philip Glass. Subsequent national and international tours, including an engagement at New York City’s Beacon Theatre, recreated the original production, including Jerome Sirlin’s holographic “visual libretto” projections.

Disney's Tarzan by David Hwang

DISNEY’S TARZAN

The Cast of TARZAN®_ photo by Joan Marcus. ©DISNEY 2006.

The Cast of TARZAN®_ photo by Joan Marcus. ©DISNEY 2006.

Music and lyrics by Phil Collins
Book by David Henry Hwang

Adapted from Disney's epic animated musical adventure and Edgar Rice Burrough's Tarzan of the Apes, Hwang wrote the book for this world renowned musical which was scored by rock legend, Phil Collins. Telling the classic story of a boy washed up on the shores of West Africa, and raised by jungle animals, the musical explores the love story between Jane and Tarzan, and the ways in which his animal upbringing clash with his human instincts.

Tarzan opened on Broadway in 2006, and ran over a year before going on to numerous regional and international productions. The German production has been running since 2008.

Purchase Tarzan (book),  (music)

PLAYS

Flower Drum Song by David Hwang

Lea Salonga (center with bag) and company members of Flower Drum Song at the Mark Taper Forum. Photo by Craig Schwartz

Lea Salonga (center with bag) and company members of Flower Drum Song at the Mark Taper Forum. Photo by Craig Schwartz

FLOWER DRUM SONG

(revival)
Music and lyrics by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II
Book by David Henry Hwang

This “revisical" of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic featured a completely new book by Hwang, while retaining the much beloved score. This updated version attempted to remain more true to the spirit of the novel by C.Y. Lee on which the show was based.

When it premiered at the Mark Taper forum in Los Angeles in 2001, it became the first show at the Taper to extend its scheduled run. The show then moved to Broadway, and in 2002 it was nominated for three Tony awards, including Best Book for a Musical.

Purchase Flower Drum Song (book), (music)

Aida by David Hwang

AIDA

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Kung Fu by David Hwang

KUNG FU

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Kung Fu is a depiction of international martial arts star Bruce Lee, and his journey from troubled youth to martial arts legend.  Kung Fu follows Lee as he struggles to prove himself as a fighter, a husband, a father, and a man. The play blends dance, Chinese opera, martial arts and drama into a bold theatrical experience.

Kung Fu premiered at Signature Theatre in 2014, directed by Leigh Silverman.

Purchase Kung Fu 

Production photos for from the Signature Theater production. Photos by Joan Marcus.

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Chinglish by David Hwang

James Waterston. Photo by Eric Y. Exit for the Goodman Theatre, 2011

James Waterston. Photo by Eric Y. Exit for the Goodman Theatre, 2011

Chinglish follows a white American businessman who travels to China, desperate to score a lucrative contact for his family's firm, only to discover how much he doesn't understand. Named for the unique and often comical third language that evolves from attempts to translate Chinese signs into English, Chinglish explores an evolving U.S. – China relationship where neither side is exactly what it pretends to be.

Chinglish premiered in 2011 at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, directed by Leigh Silverman, where it won a Jefferson Award for Best New Work. Opening on Broadway later that year, it received a 2012 Drama Desk Nomination for Best Play.

Purchase Chinglish 

Production photos from the Goodman Theatre production. Photos by Eric Y. Exit.

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.

Purchase Yellow Face

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

Golden Child by David Hwang

Jennifer Lim, Annie Q, Julyana Soelistyo, and Leslie Hu. Photo by Richard Termin, Signature Theater Production, 2012

Jennifer Lim, Annie Q, Julyana Soelistyo, and Leslie Hu. Photo by Richard Termin, Signature Theater Production, 2012

Drawn from stories told to Hwang as a child by his grandmother about their family history, Golden Child tells of a wealthy and polygamous Chinese merchant in 1918, who embraces the new religion of Christianity. In so doing, he sets off a power struggle between his three wives, and forever changes the lives of his succeeding generations.

Golden Child premiered at the Public Theater in 1996, directed by James Lapine, and won a 1997 Obie Award for Playwriting, then moved in 1998 to Broadway, where it received a Tony Nomination for Best Play. It was revived at Signature Theatre in 2012, directed by Leigh Silverman.

Purchase Golden Child

Production photos from the Golden Child at Signature Theatre in 2012. Photos by Richard Termin

Photos by Michal Daniels, from The Public Theater production in 1996.

PLAYS

Bondage by David Hwang

Allyson Harkey and Jacob Yeh in Bondage. Photo by Lucas Zuniga, courtesy`-Washington Post.

Allyson Harkey and Jacob Yeh in Bondage. Photo by Lucas Zuniga, courtesy`-Washington Post.

Set in a sadomasochism parlor in Los Angeles, Bondage probes the construction of racial stereotypes through the relationship between a dominatrix and her longtime willing submissive, both clad head to toe in black leather to conceal their identities. As the two role-play their way through a series of racially-charged sexual games, they gradually realize that the old roles no longer satisfy them as before.

Bondage premiered at Actors Theatre of Louisville in 1992, directed by Oskar Eustis.

Purchase Bondage

PLAYS

M. Butterfly by David Hwang

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M. Butterfly is inspired by a true story of a French diplomat who carried on a twenty year affair with a Chinese opera singer and spy, without realizing the true gender of his lover.

M. Butterfly is one of the most celebrated American plays, and the first by an Asian-American to open on Broadway. Premiering in 1988 in a production directed by John Dexter, it won numerous awards, including the Tony Award for Best Play, the Drama Desk Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Broadway play, and the John Gassner Award for the season’s outstanding new playwright. It was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

M. Butterfly ran for two years on Broadway, a year on London’s West End, and has been produced in over three dozen countries. It will be revived in Fall 2017 on Broadway, in a new production directed by Julie Taymor.

M. Butterfly heading back to Broadway the fall of 2017! Find out more about the revival, directed by Julie Taymor, starring Clive Owen.

Purchase M. Butterfly

David Henry Hwang, Clive Owen and Julie Taymor introduce M. Butterfly.

PLAYS