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
INTERCULTURALISM AND THE "OBJECTIVE TRUTH"
INTERCULTURALISM AND THE "OBJECTIVE TRUTH"
US ASIANS: What qualities should we embrace to enter a world of interculturalism that exhibits a basic humanity that transcends the differences in skin color, life experiences, expectations, etc. that would allow all audiences to see plays from all ethnic groups with actors from all ethnic groups (i.e. non-traditional casting)?
US ASIANS: As the very definition of what it means to be an American is changing and therefore the culture of America also is being reexamined - how can the arts (along with academia) provide the needed answers and leadership?
DAVID HENRY HWANG: The arts are, theoretically, a safe and creative arena in which the joys and tensions of this change can be explored. Rather than answers and leadership, I think the arts provide a forum and stomping ground for emotions to be aired, and issues debated.
US ASIANS: How important is it for artists to understand a definition of objective truth, whether or not we can define a universal standard of excellence?
DAVID HENRY HWANG: I think it's incredibly difficult to agree on a universal definition of objective truth, as exemplified most recently by the controversy over the anti-Islamic cartoons from Europe. On some of these most contentious differences, however, through rigorous examination and creativity, we may be able to find a peaceful means to agree to disagree.
DAVID HENRY HWANG: "Lost Empire" was a total misfire on my part, and agreeing to write it was one of the few genuine regrets I have in my life. If given another opportunity to participate in a TV miniseries based on Asian/Chinese material, I think I would probably run the other way! If I agreed to get involved, it would have to be with a director and producer who I felt genuinely understood the underlying material, preferably of Asian origin themselves. (Note: For additional details regarding his experiences with this project can be found by clicking HERE.)
US ASIANS: Is it a correction assumption that it was mentioned that you were given a mandate from Robert Halmi that he "wanted the romance between Orton [the white male] and Kwan Ying [the Asian female] to be the most important element in the adventure."
DAVID HENRY HWANG: No. Initially, Halmi gave me a mandate to put a Caucasian lead into the story. After I'd agreed to write the script, the notion of bringing in Kwan Ying as a character came up. At the time, I remember joking with the development executives that we certainly couldn't play up a romance between our Caucasian lead and the Chinese equivalent of the Virgin Mary. Yet, as the development continued, notes from the network increasingly demanded a greater emphasis on that romance.
DAVID HENRY HWANG: I think producers and studio executives feel that Caucasian audiences are better able to "relate" to a Caucasian character, that he/she becomes the stand-in for the viewer. This point of view, however, is increasingly less emphasized in recent years, as audiences become increasingly diverse, and foreign income represents a larger percentage of a film's total income.
US ASIANS: What were some of the differences between what was seen on television compared to your original vision?
DAVID HENRY HWANG: First of all, my version was a lot funnier than what eventually showed up onscreen. Furthermore, I was much more interested in examining the tension between fundamentalist and progressive cultural movements.
NEAL LABUTE'S "POSSESSION" W/GWYNETH PALTROW
DAVID HENRY HWANG: I was asked to adapt the book by Sydney Pollack, who at the time was attached to direct it. I worked on the screenplay under Sydney's supervision for about two years. By the time he felt it was ready, he had to make the choice whether to direct "Possession" or "Sabrina." He obviously chose the latter. So "Possession" went back to development limbo for years, during which a number of directors came and went, each bringing his/her own writer. Finally, of course, Neil LaBute got a greenlight to make the movie.
US ASIANS: What were the difficulties as a writer (recognizing that there were many rewrites and writers involved with the project) to write a screenplay based on A.S. Byatt's 1990 novel and bearing more than a passing resemblance to Tom Stoppard's "Arcadia" combined with John Fowles' The French Lieutenant's Woman and Karel Reisz's 1982 film version?
DAVID HENRY HWANG: Actually, I tend to be attracted to stories which take place simultaneously in more than one world or time period. The challenge of works that span periods is that the past is always more exciting than the present. Even in "Arcadia," perhaps the finest example of this genre, the period scenes have more vitality.
DAVID HENRY HWANG: I've never corresponded or spoken to Byatt, so I don't know. I do feel that Neil LaBute's great contribution to the screenplay was to make the contemporary scenes more alive, and therefore Roland a more credible character.
DAVID HENRY HWANG: We had a draft that the studio was happy with. They began to discuss the logistics of actually making this movie with the producers, Kennedy/Marshall. Last December, Kathy Kennedy had some more thoughts about the script, so I am currently working on a rewrite, which I hope to deliver before TARZAN opens.
US ASIANS: What offered the greatest challenges, hence the greatest rewards - adapting your own works, adapting other writers' works and/or original scripts - of which many didn't explicitly related to Asian American themes (i.e. The Alienist")?
DAVID HENRY HWANG: Every project has its own unique set of challenges and rewards. In general, though, I would say that adapting the work of others presents less personal risk, in that it's much more painful to see a personal work go bad than one in which I am simply a hired gun. For the same reasons, Asian- or APA-themed work is more risky than so-called mainstream work. If the latter fails, it's simply a bad movie; if the former, I feel like I'm contributing to the stereotyping of Asians.
US ASIANS: "I've had two movies made, neither of which turned out particularly well," he lamented. "Neither of the pictures was that successful artistically, and certainly not commercially."
has provided opportunities to work on many projects, read about his future
plans by clicking HERE.