By Lia Chang
AsAmNews Arts and Entertainment Reporter
Tony Award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang returns to Little Tokyo in downtown Los Angeles to participate in special talk on Sept. 25 and 26, following the 8 p.m. performances of his hit comedy Chinglish, produced by the East West Players at the David Henry Hwang Theater, 120 Judge John Aiso St. in Los Angeles.
“The U.S. and China are at a critical moment in history — each nation is deeply interested in, but knows very little about the other,” Hwang said. “Chinglish was born from the many visits I’ve made to China over the past five or six years to witness the exciting changes there.”
Chinglish is about an American businessman who is desperately looking to score a lucrative contract for his family’s firm. He travels to China only to learn how much he doesn’t understand: his translators are unreliable, his consultant may be a fraud and he is captivated by Xi, the beautiful, seemingly supportive government official who talks the talk – but what is she saying, anyway?
“As the namesake of our theater, it is only fitting that a work by David Henry Hwang, be a part of our 50th anniversary season,” said Tim Dang, Producing Artistic Director. “David is truly a trailblazer in expanding the spectrum of stories that explore the Asian American experience and Chinglish is his latest and the most relevant in reflecting the global world in which we live. Chinglish is a smart and comedic way of examining how lines, and cultures get crossed in international relations.”
The cast features Kara Wang (Chen Kaige’s Caught in the Web and Daniel Hsia’s Shanghai Calling) as Xi Yan, Matthew Jaeger as Daniel Cavanaugh, Jeff Locker as Peter Timms, Ben Wang as Cai Guolang, Leann Lei as Miss Qian and Prosecutor Li, Ewan Chung as Bing and Judge Xu Geming, and Joy Yao as Zhao. Jeff Liu directs the production, which has performances through Oct.11.
Liu’s directorial credits include the two-part film entitled Yellow Face, based on the David Henry Hwang play of the same name, along with Christmas in Hanoi, Wrinkles, and Ixnay at East West Players.
The design team includes: set design by Hana Sooyeon Kim, lighting design by Lonnie Rafael Alcaraz, costume design by Yuheng Dai, sound design by Dennis Yen, and props by Michael O’Hara. Stage manager is Sylvia Trinh.
In 2014, Hwang was named director of the Columbia University’s School of the Arts’ master’s program in playwriting. Hwang’s upcoming musical productions include The Forgotten Arm, with music and lyrics by Aimee Mann and Paul Bryan, for the Public Theater; and Pretty Dead Girl, with music and lyrics by Anne-Marie Milazzo. Hwang is a writer-producer for the Golden Globe-winning TV series The Affair; is developing an original television series, Shanghai, for Lionsgate and the Bravo Network; and is currently writing the film adaptation of Chinglish, to be directed by Justin Lin. According to Opera News, Hwang is America’s most-produced living opera librettist, and his collaboration with Bright Sheng on Dream of the Red Chamber for the San Francisco Opera will be produced at the War Memorial Opera House in Fall 2016.
Lia Chang is an award-winning filmmaker, a Best Actress nominee, a photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.