There was a time when Asian plays and actors were not really that accepted in Broadway, says celebrated playwright Henry David Hwang. But now American theater has a wide variety, and there is increasing awareness of ethnic plays.
Hwang, author of “M. Butterfly,” “Golden Child” and other acclaimed plays, was in town two weeks ago in connection with the revival of “M. Butterfly,” which starred RS Francisco in the role he first played 30 years ago at the University of the Philippines, opposite the late Behn Cervantes.
Hwang spoke at a press conference at Seda Hotel in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. Also present were Francisco and Broadway-based producer Jhett Tolentino.
“It’s an affirmative development,” Hwang said. “It’s really important for me to move American theater all over that world. There is diversity, it is an outgrowth of the Third World. You see it even in ‘Star Wars.’ I am encouraged, there are now more Asian playwrights in Broadway.”
The dramatist, who has ties to the Philippines (his grandparents lived in Cebu), called it “a wonderful country that I love so much.”
His best-known work, “M. Butterfly,” has been presented three times on the Manila stage (Dulaang UP, Repertory Philippines and Frontrow Entertainment), and around the world.
It is the true story of a French diplomat (fictional name Gallimard) who had a long affair with a cross-dressing Chinese opera singer, believing him to be a woman.
Didn’t the real Gallimard file suit against Hwang? I asked the dramatist during the press conference.
At first he complained, the playwright indicated. But when he saw the original production he apparently had a change of heart and, as Hwang related it, followed the show around the world and would boast, “I’m really that guy!”
Organizers announced that “M. Butterfly” will have a Philippine tour, including the cities of Iloilo and Davao. Tickets will be available mid-October or early November. —CONTRIBUTED