Based on a true story that stunned the world, M. Butterfly opens in the cramped prison cell where diplomat Rene Gallimard is being held captive by the French government—and by his own illusions. In the darkness of his cell he recalls a time when desire seemed to give him wings. A time when Song Liling, the beautiful Chinese diva, touched him with a love as vivid, as seductive—and as elusive—as a butterfly.
How could he have known, then, that his ideal woman was, in fact, a spy for the Chinese government—and a man disguised as a woman? In a series of flashbacks, the diplomat relives the twenty-year affair from the temptation to the seduction, from its consummation to the scandal that ultimately consumed them both. But in the end, there remains only one truth: Whether or not Gallimard's passion was a flight of fancy, it sparked the most vigorous emotions of his life.
Only in real life could love become so unreal. And only in such a dramatic tour de force do we learn how a fantasy can become a man's mistress—as well as his jailer. M. Butterfly is one of the most compelling, explosive, and slyly humorous dramas ever to light the Broadway stage, a work of unrivaled brilliance, illuminating the conflict between men and women, the differences between East and West, racial stereotypes—and the shadows we cast around our most cherished illusions.
M. Butterfly remains one of the most influential romantic plays of contemporary literature, and in 1993 was made into a film by David Cronenberg starring Jeremy Irons and John Lone.
"A brilliant play of ideas… a visionary work that bridges the history and culture of two worlds."—Frank Rich, New York Times
Based on a true story that stunned the world, and inspired by Giacomo Puccini's opera Madama Butterfly, M. Butterfly was an immediate sensation when it premiered in 1988. It opens in the cramped prison cell where diplomat Rene Gallimard is being held captive by the French government—and by his own illusions. He recalls a time when Song Liling, the beautiful Chinese diva, touched him with a love as vivid, as seductive—and as elusive—as a butterfly.
How could he have known that his true love was, in fact, a spy for the Chinese government—and a man disguised as a woman? The diplomat relives the twenty-year affair from the temptation to the seduction, from its consummation to the scandal that ultimately consumed them both.
M. Butterfly is one of the most compelling, explosive, and slyly humorous dramas ever to light the Broadway stage, a work of unrivaled brilliance, illuminating the conflict between men and women, the differences between East and West, racial stereotypes—and the shadows we cast around our most cherished illusions.
The original cast included John Lithgow as Gallimard and BD Wong as Song Liling. During the show's 777-performance run, David Dukes, Anthony Hopkins, Tony Randall, and John Rubinstein were also cast as Gallimard. Hwang adapted the play for a 1993 film directed by David Cronenberg, starring Jeremy Irons and John Lone.
TEXT OF THE ORIGINAL BROADWAY PRODUCTION
Springing from the author's personal experiences in China, Chinglish follows a Midwestern American businessman desperately seeking to score a lucrative contact for his family's firm as he travels to China, 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 the challenges of doing business in a country whose language—and underlying cultural assumptions—are worlds apart from our own. David Henry Hwang's "best new work since M. Butterfly, this shrewd, timely and razor-sharp comedy" (Chicago Tribune) received its Broadway premiere in fall 2011, and a film adaptation is currently in development.
David Henry Hwang is the author of the Tony Award-winning M. Butterfly, Yellow Face (OBIE Award, 2008 Pulitzer Prize finalist), Golden Child (1997 OBIE Award), FOB (1981 OBIE Award), Family Devotions (Drama Desk nomination), and the books for musicals Aida ( co-author), Flower Drum Song (2002 Broadway revival), and Tarzan, among other works. David Henry Hwang graduated from Stanford University, attended the Yale School of Drama, and holds honorary degrees from Columbia College in Chicago and The American Conservatory Theatre. He lives in New York City with his wife, actress Kathryn Layng, and their children, Noah David and Eva Veanne.
“Charming, touching, and cunningly organized as well as funny, [with] an Ibsenite reach and stature far beyond any issues of Hwang’s self-image.”—The Village Voice
“It’s about our country, about public image, about face,” says David Henry Hwang about his latest work, a mock documentary that puts Hwang himself center stage as it explores both Asian identity as well as race in America. The play begins with the 1990s controversy over color-blind casting for Miss Saigon, before it spins into a comic fantasy, in which the character DHH pens a play in protest and then unwittingly casts a white actor as the Asian lead. Yellow Face also explores the real-life investigation of Hwang’s father, the first Asian American to own a federally chartered bank, and the espionage charges against physicist Wen Ho Lee. Adroitly combining the light touch of comedy with weighty political and emotional issues, “Hwang’s lively and provocative cultural self-portrait lets nobody off the hook” (The New York Times).
David Henry Hwang is the author of the Tony Award–winning M. Butterfly, a finalist for the 1988 Pulitzer Prize. Other plays include Golden Child, FOB, The Dance and the Railroad, and Family Devotions; his opera libretti include three works for composer Philip Glass. He was appointed by President Clinton to the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.
David Henry Hwang has created an extraordinary body of work over the last twenty years: the Tony Award-winning play, M. Butterfly; the OBIE Award-winning and 1998 Tony nominated Golden Child; the libretti to The Voyage (included here) and 1000 Airplanes on the Roof (both for composer Philip Glass); and the book to Aida, which he coauthored. He has received fellowships from the Rockefeller and Guggenheim foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts and The Pew /TCG National Artists Residency Program.
This eight-play collection includes:
FOB: "fresh off the boat" explores the conflicts between old and new worlds
The Dance and the Railroad: a haunting play about the inhuman conditions of railroad workers in the 1860s American West
Family Devotions: a biting work which probes the religious conflicts in a modern Chinese-American family
The Sound of a Voice: a meditation on the traditional roles of man and woman set in feudal Japan
The House of Sleeping Beauties: a reworking of a novella by Yasunari Kawabata
The Voyage: the libretto to the opera by Philip Glass, which examines Columbus's arrival in America
Bondage: a one-act set in an S&M parlor, which examines racial stereotypes and sexual myths
Trying to Find Chinatown: a two-person play, in which two Asian-American men-one searching for his Asian heritage, the other trying to shake himself free-meet by chance in New York City
"David Henry Hwang knows America-its vernacular, its social landscape, its theatrical traditions. He knows the same about China. In his plays, he manages to mix both of these conflicting cultures until he arrives at a style that is wholly his own. Hwang's works have the verve of the well-made American stage comedies and yet, with little warning, they bubble over into the mystical rituals of Asian stagecraft. By at once bringing West and East into conflict and unity, this playwright has found the perfect
An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance starring John Lithgow and B.D. Wong alongside Margaret Cho, David Dukes, Joanna Frank, Arye Gross and Kathryn Layng.