It's OK to be Wrong and/or It's OK to be Hwang
Presentations of idiosyncratic history pageants with a sense of humor and musicality
A Creative Soul, Successful Playwright, Screenwriter and Librettist with All the Work He can Handle
DIVERSITY "GOLDEN CHILD" AND CHRISTIANITY
DIVERSITY "GOLDEN CHILD" AND CHRISTIANITY
"GOLDEN CHILD" AND CHRISTIANITY
US ASIANS: Could your rejection of Christianity be part of your search to go beyond the seemingly imposed religious restrictions (condition of your father's marriage to your mother, great grandfather's break with Confucian tradition and conversion to Christianity - along with its impact on his three wives and succeeding generations, etc.)?
US ASIANS: What battles involving the Chinese/Asian Pacific American communities were you trying to highlight within your production?
DAVID HENRY HWANG: I don't think I was highlighting American issues, per se, here, as much as those conflicts that arise in any culture when one tries to impose change, however necessary or progressive these advances may be.
US ASIANS: What perspectives would you hope that present-day audiences would pick up that will motivate them to explore why the conflicts (Western vs. Chinese ways & traditions, Christian vs. Non-Christian lifestyle viewpoints, family conflicts, etc.) still have considerable merit today?
DAVID HENRY HWANG: Well, we live in a time when a powerful and well-funded right-wing movement is actively trying to undo a half-century of social progress and return America to norms more prevalent in the 1950's. I hope that "Golden Child" explores why change is necessary, even when it faces powerful opposition.
US ASIANS: Could you share the status/role/importance/admiration of the convoluted rituals of feminine humility expressed by the first wife (who retreats from the Christian invasion by smoking opium because "it takes away the only thing that stands in the way of a woman's power - her feelings"), the second (the jealous wife who pretends to be interested in being "modern" to manipulate the household) and the third wife (the modest, favored young wife listens to "La Traviata" on the phonograph and, before disaster strikes, experiments with a love that dares to look directly in her lover's eyes)?
DAVID HENRY HWANG: I think I was trying to provide an alternative to views of women as passive victims in pre-Revolutionary China, in works such as "Raise the Red Lantern," as opposed to Western women, such as the protagonists of "Sense & Sensibility" who also face horrible repression, but still manage to emerge as fully-dimensional human beings, with aspirations and a sense of humor.
US ASIANS: Golden Child's "Kwong" remarked that "This is America; everyone is ashamed of their ancestors" in a play that reveals the complexities of assimilation that have many parallels to your life - does this tale to Noah (your first child) reflect your views on your own ancestors?
DAVID HENRY HWANG: I think I was mostly commenting on the fact that, in a nation where most people are descended from immigrants, we all have ambivalent views about the root cultures they chose to leave. Perhaps it also reflects the recognition that my children are likely to be ashamed of me some day -- especially during their teenaged years!
US ASIANS: If a life based on absolutes isn't sufficient to handle complex human experiences based on ambivalences, self-delusions, accidents, happenstance, etc. - what set of idea(s) provide that ability to be free to move beyond stereotypes to a new level of freedom with different type of roles/issues?
DAVID HENRY HWANG: I guess at heart, I'm basically a liberal humanist.
"FAMILY DEVOTIONS" AND CHRISTIANITY
DAVID HENRY HWANG: Honestly, I think "Family Devotions" is an exploration of my early conflicts with religion, but that it doesn't reach any consistent and coherent conclusions. I probably would recommend "Golden Child" as a more fully-formed piece.
US ASIANS: Remembering your character DiGoo's words to Chester of "Study your face and you will see the shape of your face that is the shape of faces back many generations, across an ocean and in another soil. You must become one with your family before you can hope to live away from it. Chester, you are in America, if you deny those who share your blood, what do you have in this country" - how does this highlights the conflict many Asian Pacific Americans have between "Authentic Culture" versus "Orientalism (obtaining our self image through Western/American eyes/viewpoints/prejudices/preconceptions/idiosyncrasies)?"
DAVID HENRY HWANG: I think it reflects my beliefs that our faces hold a mystery which are worth exploring. Perhaps we won't find ultimate answers, but it is the repeated asking of the question, at different points in our lives, which affirms our humanity.