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DAVID HENRY HWANG INTERVIEW
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

 

THEATER ABOUT HISTORY

MIH - MISSING IN HISTORY" is what Helen Zia (a prominent activist and book author) stated about the Asian/Asian Pacific American communities. She adds that "I've been struck time and again by how little is really known about us (Asian Pacific American communities) and the America we are part of; how the rich textures of who we are, why we are here, and what we bring to America remain so absent from the picture. But a community as large, diverse, and dynamic as the Asian American and Pacific Islander peoples cannot stay on the edge of obscurity, frustrated by images that have rendered us invisible and voiceless, while other American communities wonder why we are at the center of key issues of the day."

David's plays have provided one viable option to prompt/motivate Asian/Asian Pacific Americans who sadly don't know and/or have learned at a late stage the need to discover their past heritage that they (ideally) should have known for a long time - along with helping non-Asians acquiring a better understanding of the many unique cultural tapestries that interwoven within these many Asian/Asian Pacific American communities. His efforts are to be complimented and supported - whether or not you agree or disagree with the artistic results. This section of the interview will highlight his journey to share these invaluable stories to the general public.

DANCE AND THE RAILROAD

 
WELLY YANG
 
 
Click HERE for Bio Info  
He (Welly Yang) says he didn't know a lot of the historical context in the show ("Making Tracks" - The plot is about a young Asian American rock musician uncovers the stories behind his family’s six-generation struggle to find a voice in America.) until fairly recently.

"There's the ethnic studies types who know it all," he says, "but I had a fairly elite education and it wasn't until that education was over that I discovered a lot of this on my own. I didn't know the history of Asian immigration, that they weren't even allowed to immigrate for a quarter of the nation's history or something ridiculous like that. I had never even heard of that."
Discover APA history by clicking HERE
Click HERE for more info>>>>

"No one will know who we are
until we know who we are" (Malcolm X )

 
Brief Background
 
Welly Yang is a 2nd generation Taiwanese American graduate with honors in Political Science/International Relations from Columbia University.
Click HERE for More Background Information
US ASIANS: With Welly Yang's Making Tracks serving as his platform to discover the history of the Asian Pacific American communities in the United States that he never knew till recently, why do you feel that our communities have failed to utilized your plays such as "The Dance and the Railroad" as a starting point?

As long we don't know our history and other's history, there
will be no positive interactions or understandings. (Yuri Kochiyama)

DAVID HENRY HWANG: I think "Dance and the Railroad" has been staged a fair amount in APA theatres, but it is a complicated work to produce, demanding actors with a very specific expertise. That said, I do think a new generation would enjoy seeing it!

US ASIANS: Outside of Welly Yang's (of NYC's "2nd Generation Theater Group) and John Woo/Chow Yun-Fat's upcoming film project, isn't it ironic that one of the major achievements of the West (laying the tracks for the Transcontinental Pacific Railroad) for Chinese Americans hasn't been explored more often?

DAVID HENRY HWANG: It's certainly a great subject for a film, and I think it's only a matter of time before we see one. In fairness, we haven't seen a film about the building of the Railroad from the Irish side, either. As you probably know, I wrote the first few drafts of "Battle of Ono," as my first screenwriting job, back when the legendary HK director King Hu was attached to it. Perhaps, after 25+ years, this project will finally get made!

US ASIANS: There's a greater sadness recognizing that the owners of the Transcontinental Railroad didn't want any of the Chinese laborers in the pictures that were taken, especially noting that in the 2005 GM Transportation commercial takes place at the meeting of the railroads with all the executives/laborers in the commercial are white. Why do you think that this "slight" is allowed and/or addressed by any APA organizations - could it be that many within the Asian/Asian Pacific American communities don't know the truth?!?!?

DAVID HENRY HWANG: Quite possibly. Americans aren't so good with history in general, including APAs.

 
Chinese Railroad Workers
 
US ASIANS: Acknowledging that many have wondered where are the great roles for Asian male actors and the expressed interest of people such as John Woo/Chou Yun-fat in finding a vehicle focused on the Chinese working on the transcontinental railroad, what things do you feel need to happened to bring "Dance and the Railroad" to the big screen?

DAVID HENRY HWANG: I think "Dance and the Railroad" would have to be substantially reconceived to serve as a satisfactory action vehicle. That said, I would love to try my hand at adapting it!

US ASIANS: Do you find it ironic that with the current immigration patterns of the Chinese/Asian communities creating large group of people that are sorting out their respective pasts while confronting new identifies and uncertain futures in America, the issues described and debated within your production are surprisingly more relevant?

"The history of Asian Americans offers all of us an opportunity to carry into the coming century a larger memory of American's past" (Ronald Takaki)
DAVID HENRY HWANG: Given the influx of relatively recent immigrants into our community, it's not surprising that these issues are still relevant.

US ASIANS: With the ongoing interest in musicals in theater, combined with Hollywood's fast-growing interest in Asian theater from India, China, South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan - what would be the obstacles in bringing your play that creates a mixture of Eastern and Western theater while incorporating the nonrealistic modes of Chinese Opera?

 
 
Dance & the Railroad
 
Story of two Chinese labourers working on the Transcontinental Railroad and marks a historical episode in U.S. history.
DAVID HENRY HWANG: At this point, a major "Dance and the Railroad" revival could probably happen if the right actors were identified. More specifically, I have begun to explore the idea of bringing "Dance and the Railroad" to Broadway if a certain bankable Hong Kong actor were interested.

US ASIANS: Do you long and/or seek collaborative relationships with your actors such as what happened with John Lone and Tzi Ma in "The Dance and the Railroad?" How did this relationship help seamlessly integrate the Eastern and Western theater elements? What was the creative motivation of utilizing Chinese opera techniques within this production - could it be your hope to form an authentic Asian American format?

DAVID HENRY HWANG: John and Tzi, and their expertise in Chinese opera and dance forms, were instrumental in the conception and development of this show. I was, in fact, consciously trying to develop a new, Asian American form. I do like making work for specific actors, and have several ideas for shows in the future built around certain performers I admire.

FAMILY DEVOTION

US ASIANS: Do you find it ironic that the ideas and issues (affluent immigrant families living hyphenated lives) expressed in your 1981 production Family Devotions has even greater significance in 2005?

DAVID HENRY HWANG: It reflects the extraordinary 180-degree shift over the past few decades in some of the ways Asians are perceived in America.

1000 Airplanes on the Roof

 
US ASIANS: Could you describe the ultimate freedom in participating in the creation of this science-fiction multimedia drama with composer Philip Glass and scene designer Jerome Sirlin - recognizing that the parameters of a finite theme and mode of communication are limit by any traditional presuppositions?

DAVID HENRY HWANG: This was my first experience with musical theatre as such. I set out to write a piece that favored poeticism over linear storytelling, but ended up with a fairly straightforward narrative, after all. Over the years, I've found that my bent towards telling a story the audience can follow prevails, even when working with more avant-garde artists and in less linear forms. It seems that composers, at least those who choose to work with me, appreciate a librettist who can tell stories in a relatively traditional fashion.

 
US ASIANS: With the current issues with Mainland China/Taiwan and the United States heightening the continuing conflicts of identify had background, what do you feel are the obstacles are in utilizing your play as a means to review/examine the issues by today's audiences - American and Chinese/Asian Pacific American?

DAVID HENRY HWANG: I frankly feel that the play is probably one of the least "finished" of my works. If I had the time and inclination, I'd give it a rewrite!

US ASIANS: Do you find it ironic and/or tragic that your play examines a Chinese American family through the lens of a television sitcom and still it is a very rare occurrence - with Margaret Cho's "All American Girl" being the only example?

DAVID HENRY HWANG: It was an impressive feat to actually get "All American Girl" on a network schedule. It's a shame the writing/producing end wasn't more skillfully handled, but it's incredibly difficult to make a good anything!

Margaret Cho

Editor's Note: To learn more about the people that were strategic in getting the program "All American Girl" broadcast on ABC, click on the below-listed links for additional background information:

 



Music and musicals has always been an important of career. Read about his journey by clicking HERE.

Discover David's Viewpoints on the Wide Spectrum of Subjects by Clicking on the Below-Listed Links
AUTHENTICITY
CULTURE
CREATIVE PROCESS
DIVERSITY
MUSIC & MUSICALS

Applications
Authenticity vs. Stereotypes
Definition
Frank Chin Battles
Stereotypes - David's Views

THEATER
1000 Airplanes on the Roof
Chinese Railroad Workers
Dance and the Railroad
Family & Christianity
Family Devotion
FOB
Golden Child & Christianity
Origins of Interest
Rich Relations
Sound of a Voice
Steve Allen's Meeting of Minds
Trying to Find Chinatown

 

 

Critical Thinking
Cultural Symbol
Debating Issues
Ethnic Isolationism
Its Issues
Representations

PERSONAL INFO
2nd Marriage & Its Joys
David on Ismail Merchant
Henry Hwang (Father)
Kathryn Hwang (Wife)
Overview
Parents & Relatives
Parting Words
Personal Facts

SUPPORT
Financial
Needed from APA Artists
From Our Communities

 

Choices
Collaborators

Days of Education & Learning
Dealing with Expectations
Failure's Particular Lessons
Inappropriate Characters
Influences & Inspirations
"Lost Empire" Experience
Pressures with Success
Role Models
Working with Lucia Hwong
Working with Philip Glass
Working with Unsuk Chin

NEW & PAST PROJECTS
Chinese Mafia-type Films
Desired Projects
Hello Suckers
Inspiration of China
Status of Past Projects
Tarzan
Texas Guinan
The Fly
Yellow Face

 

APA Theater Organizations
Blind-Casting
Calvin Jung
Current Status
Daring Films w/Asian Males
Definition of an APA
Ethnic Theater
Life as a Librettist (Ainadamar)
Life as a Role Model
Ms. Saigon Protest
Perceptions
Proteges & Artists
Recognizing APA Artists
State of Asian Women Writers
Welly Yang Learning History

LIFE AS A SCREENWRITER
Across the Nightingale Floor
Experience with Hollywood
Golden Gate & M.Butterfly
Interculturalism & Objective Truth
NBC's Lost Empire
Neal Labute's "Possession"

 

Its Importance
M.Butterfly
Today's APA Communities
Working with Prince

FLOWER DRUM SONG
Anna May Wong
Arabella Hong-Young
Background Research
C.Y. Lee
Creative Choices
Its Importance
Original Version
Remembering Our History

REVIEWS
Yellow Face

       
       
       

 

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