Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Lia Chang Photos: Playwright David Henry Hwang in rehearsal at the Goodman Theatre for World Premiere of Chinglish

Playwright David Henry Hwang during a rehearsal for the world premiere of his new play Chinglish, directed by Leigh Silverman, in the Healy Rehearsal room at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. © 2011 Lia Chang

Playwright David Henry Hwang during a rehearsal for the world premiere of his new play Chinglish, directed by Leigh Silverman, in the Healy Rehearsal room at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. © 2011 Lia Chang

Tony Award winner and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly) is having a banner summer in Chicago, where three of his plays are being produced.
Playwright David Henry Hwang adds new pages to his script during a rehearsal for Chinglish in the Healy Room of the Goodman Theatre in Chicago on June 5, 2011. © 2011 Lia Chang

Playwright David Henry Hwang adds new pages to his script during a rehearsal for Chinglish in the Healy Room of the Goodman Theatre in Chicago on June 5, 2011. © 2011 Lia Chang

From June 14-July 17, the Silk Road Theatre Project is presenting the Chicago premiere of Hwang’s semi-autobiographical Yellow Face, directed by Steve Scott at The Historic Chicago Temple Building in collaboration with the Goodman Theatre; from June 18-July 24, the Goodman Theatre is presenting the world premiere of Hwang’s Chinglish, a razor-sharp new comedy about the challenges of doing business in a culture worlds apart from our own, directed by Leigh Silverman in the Albert Theatre; and from August 11-September 4, the Halcyon Theatre is presenting Hwang’s Family Devotions, a comedy where chaos ensues when three generations of an Asian-American family welcome their patriarch from Communist China, directed by Jennifer Adams at the Greenhouse Theater Center.
Playwright David Henry Hwang and director Leigh Silverman discussing script changes during a rehearsal for Chinglish in the Healy Room of the Goodman Theatre in Chicago on June 5, 2011. © 2011 Lia Chang

Playwright David Henry Hwang and director Leigh Silverman discussing script changes during a rehearsal for Chinglish in the Healy Room of the Goodman Theatre in Chicago on June 5, 2011. © 2011 Lia Chang

During the first weekend in June, I was in Chicago to see André De Shields in Charles Smith’s The Gospel According to James, directed by Chuck Smith at the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, when Hwang and Silverman graciously agreed to let me come photodocument a rehearsal in the Healy Rehearsal room, for my newly created collection at the Library of Congress – the Lia Chang Asian Pacific American Theater and Other Works Portfolio, which will be on display in Washington D.C. from July 23-30, 2011.
This is playwright David Henry Hwang’s second collaboration with director Leigh Silverman. The first was the Obie-Award winning and Pulitzer prize finalist semi-autobiographical Yellow Face. © 2011 Lia Chang

This is playwright David Henry Hwang’s second collaboration with director Leigh Silverman. The first was the Obie-award winning and Pulitzer prize finalist semi-autobiographical Yellow Face. © 2011 Lia Chang

Chinglish is Hwang’s second collaboration on a world premiere with Obie Award-winning director Leigh Silverman, following Yellow Face at Center Theater Group and The Public Theater. Chinglish, performed in a blend of English and Mandarin (with English surtitles), is currently in previews, with an official opening night set for June 27 in the Goodman’s Albert Theatre, with performances continuing through July 24, 2011.
(L-R) James Waterston (Daniel) and Jennifer Lim (Xu Yan) rehearsing a scene of David Henry Hwang’s Chinglish in the Healy Room of the Goodman Theatre in Chicago on June 5, 2011. © 2011 Lia Chang

(L-R) James Waterston (Daniel) and Jennifer Lim (Xu Yan) rehearsing a scene of David Henry Hwang’s Chinglish in the Healy Room of the Goodman Theatre in Chicago on June 5, 2011. © 2011 Lia Chang

“Few plays in recent years have delighted me as much as Chinglish,” said Goodman Artistic Director Robert Falls. “With a career spanning more than three decades and a canon that incorporates an array of genres, David is one of the luminaries of contemporary American theater. I have admired his work since long before our collaboration on the Broadway musical Aida, and it is a thrill to welcome him to the Goodman for the first time.”
(L-R) James Waterston (Daniel) and Jennifer Lim (Xu Yan) getting a note from Chinglish translator Candace Chong, as director Leigh Silverman looks on in the Healy Room of the Goodman Theatre in Chicago on June 5, 2011 . © 2011 Lia Chang

(L-R) James Waterston (Daniel) and Jennifer Lim (Xu Yan) getting a note from Chinglish translator Candace Chong, as director Leigh Silverman looks on in the Healy Room of the Goodman Theatre in Chicago on June 5, 2011 . © 2011 Lia Chang

“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,” said Hwang. “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.
Translator Candace Chong (center) reviews the Chinese dialogue in the new script pages with Joanna C. Lee and Ken Smith, Cultural Advisors for Chinglish, in the Healy Room of the Goodman Theatre in Chicago on June 5, 2011. © 2011 Lia Chang

Translator Candace Chong (center) reviews the Chinese dialogue in the new script pages with Joanna C. Lee and Ken Smith, Cultural Advisors for Chinglish in the Healy Room of the Goodman Theatre in Chicago on June 5, 2011. © 2011 Lia Chang

During one particular visit with Joanna C. Lee and Ken Smith, Hwang’s Cultural Advisors on Chinglish, he related, “I toured a new arts center where everything was first-rate—except for the ridiculously translated English signs. It was at that moment when I thought of writing this play.”
(L-R) Stephen Pucci (Peter), Jennifer Lim (Xu Yan), and James Waterston (Daniel) rehearsing a scene for Chinglish in the Healy Room of the Goodman Theatre in Chicago on June 5, 2011. © 2011 Lia Chang

(L-R) Stephen Pucci (Peter), Jennifer Lim (Xu Yan), and James Waterston (Daniel) rehearsing a scene for Chinglish in the Healy Room of the Goodman Theatre in Chicago on June 5, 2011. © 2011 Lia Chang

Daniel (James Waterston), a Midwestern American businessman who’s desperately looking to score a lucrative contact for his family’s sign-making firm, travels to the provincial capital of Guiyang, only to learn how much he doesn’t understand: his translators are unreliable, his Australian-born consultant, Peter (Stephen Pucci), may be a fraud, and he is captivated by Xu Yan (Jennifer Lim), the beautiful, seemingly supportive government official who talks the talk—but what is she saying, anyway? The seven-member cast of Chinglish also includes Larry Zhang as Cai Guoliang, the Minister of Culture in Guiyang; Christine Lin as the Minister’s translator, Mrs. Zhao; Angela Lin as Miss Qian and Prosecutor Li; and Johnny Wu as Judge Xu Geming and Bing.
(L-R) Actors Johnny Wu and Angela Lim with Chinglish playwright David Henry Hwang in the Healy Room of the Goodman Theatre in Chicago on June 5, 2011 . © 2011 Lia Chang

(L-R) Actors Johnny Wu and Angela Lim with Chinglish playwright David Henry Hwang in the Healy Room of the Goodman Theatre in Chicago on June 5, 2011 . © 2011 Lia Chang

The award-winning creative team for Chinglish includes Set Designer David Korins (Broadway: Lombardi, Passing Strange), Costume Designer Anita Yavich (Broadway: Anna in the Tropics), Lighting Designer Brian MacDevitt (Goodman: Long Day’s Journey into Night), Sound Designer Darron West (Broadway: Time Stands Still); Projections Designer Jeff Sugg (Broadway: 33 Variations); Dramaturg Tanya Palmer (Goodman: Ruined, The Long Red Road), Production Stage Manager Alden Vasquez (Goodman: A Christmas Carol; Broadway: The Song of Jacob Zulu) and Translator Candace Chong.
(L-R) Actors Stephen Pucci, Angela Lin, Projection Designer Shawn Duan, Translator Candace Chong, Cultural Advisor Joanna C. Lee and playwright David Henry Hwang are in stitches watching a video from CHINA’S GOT TALENT: a foodseller singing about her “free scallions” to a tune from the opera TURANDOT. © 2011 Lia Chang

(L-R) Actors Stephen Pucci, Angela Lin, Projection Designer Shawn Duan, Translator Candace Chong, Cultural Advisor Joanna C. Lee and playwright David Henry Hwang are in stitches watching a video from CHINA’S GOT TALENT: a foodseller singing about her “free scallions” to a tune from the opera TURANDOT. © 2011 Lia Chang


Chinglish
June 18-July 24 (Opening Night is June 27)
Goodman Theatre
170 North Dearborn
Tickets are tickets are $25 – $73 (prices are subject to change) and can be purchased at GoodmanTheatre.org, at the box office (170 N. Dearborn) or by phone: 312.443.3800.

Yellow Face
June 14 – July 17
The Historic Chicago Temple Building
77 W. Washington
Tickets are $34 and can be purchased at GoodmanTheatre.org, at the box office (170 N. Dearborn) or by phone: 312.443.3800.
www.srtp.org

Family Devotions
August 11-September 4
Halcyon Theatre at the Greenhouse Theater Center
2257 North Lincoln
(773)404-7336
http://greenhousetheater.com/

Tony Award winner and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly) © 2011 Lia Chang

Tony Award winner and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly) © 2011 Lia Chang


David Henry Hwang Articles:
Judges for 2010-2011 Village Voice Obie Awards include Feingold, Soloski, Als, Hwang, Yionoulis and Propst; Ceremony on 5/16
Yellow Face Reading & Book Signing w/ David Henry Hwang, Kathryn Layng, Francis Jue, w/ guest Edward Albee David Henry Hwang, Francis Jue, Kathryn Layng and Edward Albee: YELLOW FACE Reading Book Signing at The Drama Book Shop on 12/10
Multimedia: George Takei, Nancy Kwan, Lisa Lu and Tsai Chin attend Hollywood Chinese: The Arthur Dong Collection Exhibition Opening Night
The Chinese American Museum partners with Academy award nominated filmmaker Arthur Dong on a groundbreaking exhibition about Hollywood’s forgotten past
David Henry Hwang’s YELLOW FACE Starring Francis Jue, Pub Bandu and Thomas Azar at Theatreworks through 9/20
In Arthur Dong’s Hollywood Chinese, Chinese Tinseltown Tales told by Asian Silver Screen Icons
David Henry Hwang, Kathryn Layng and BD Wong at the Asian American Writers Workshop Literary Awards
Nothing is Sacred in David Henry Hwang’s Comedy of Mistaken Racial Identity
Francis Jue, At Home on the Stage
Flower Drum Song: An American Story

Other articles by Lia Chang
HHC Art Collection’s “New York City: In FOCUS, Vol.2” Photo Exhibit on view 6/23-/7/14, Opening Reception 6/23
Photos: Phylicia Rashad, Michael McElroy, Marva Hicks in Broadway Inspirational Voices “Wondrous Grace” Concert in NY
Samrat Chakrabarti and Sanjiv Jhaveri’s Popera “Bakwas Bumbug” at The Wild Project in NY, June 22-26
Playwright Camille Darby
Photos:Alexander McQueen:Savage Beauty Extends at Met through 8/7, Met Mondays w/ McQueen begin 6/6
Photos: Willie Reale, Frances McDormand, Lewis Black, Bela Fleck, Renee Goldsberry, Duncan Sheik, Lisa Benavides, Abigail Washburn, Tim Blake Nelson at The 52nd Street Project Benefit
Meshach Taylor talks Wigger on Wendy Williams Show
Photos of AEA’s Asian Heritage Celebration, featuring the Leviathan Lab Asian American Women Writers Workshop
Photos: Samrat Chakrabarti, Soham Mehta and Shiva Shankar Bajpai at the New York Indian Film Festival
Photos: David Duchovny, John Earl Jelks, Amanda Peet, Tracee Chimo opening night of Neil LaBute’s The Break of Noon
Multimedia: Exclusive photos and video of Disney’s The Lion King Las Vegas -In the Makeup Chair with Thom Sesma
Multimedia: Promises, Promises’ Stars Kristin Chenoweth and Sean Hayes at Lord & Taylor Fifth Ave
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang Photo by Brianne Michelle Photography

Lia Chang Photo by Brianne Michelle Photography

Lia Chang is an actor, performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multimedia journalist.

As a photographer and videographer, Lia collaborates with artists, organizations and companies in establishing their documentary photo archive and social media presence. She has been documenting her colleagues and contemporaries in the arts, fashion and journalism since making her stage debut as Liat in the National Tour of South Pacific, with Robert Goulet and Barbara Eden. Lia currently plays Nurse Lia on “One Life to Live”. She has appeared in Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and “New York Undercover”.

Selections of Lia’s archive of Asian Pacific Americans in the arts, fashion, journalism, politics and space are in the newly created LIA CHANG THEATER PHOTOGRAPHY PORTFOLIO in the ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN PERFORMING ARTS COLLECTION housed in the Library of Congress Asian Division’s Asian American Pacific Islander Collection.

Lia’s portraits and performance photos have appeared in Vanity Fair, Gourmet, German Elle, Women’s Wear Daily, The Paris Review, TV Guide, Daily Variety, Interior Design, American Theatre, Broadwayworld.com, Life & Style, OUT, New York Magazine, InStyle, Timeout.com, Villagevoice.com, Playbill.com, Theatermania.com, thelmagazine.com, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, USA Today, The Boston Globe, New York Times and Washington Post. A former syndicated arts and entertainment columnist for KYODO News, Lia is the New York Bureau Chief for AsianConnections.com. She writes about culture, style and Asian American issues for a variety of publications and this Backstage Pass with Lia Chang blog.

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