Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Michelle Krusiec and Alex Moggridge Star in David Henry Hwang’s Chinglish at South Coast Repertory, January 25 – February 24, 2013

South Coast Repertory is presenting David Henry Hwang’s Broadway hit play Chinglish, directed by Leigh Silverman, from January 25-February 24, 2013 on the Segerstrom Stage, 655 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa. Opening night is February 1, 2013. Chinglish explores language and cultural missteps made by visitors to China, both in business and, unexpectedly, in romance. TIME named Chinglish one of its Top 10 Plays, and New York Magazine called it “sexy, fun and hilarious.”

Michelle Krusiec (left) and Alex Moggridge (right) in South Coast Repertory’s production of Chinglish, a new comedy from David Henry Hwang. This co-production with Berkeley Repertory Theatre – the West Coast premiere -- heads to the Hong Kong Arts Festival after the show closes at SCR. Photo courtesy of

Michelle Krusiec (left) and Alex Moggridge (right) in South Coast Repertory’s production of Chinglish, a new comedy from David Henry Hwang. This co-production with Berkeley Repertory Theatre – the West Coast premiere — heads to the Hong Kong Arts Festival after the show closes at SCR. Photo courtesy of

The cast includes Vivian Chiu, Celeste Den, Austin Ku, Michelle Krusiec, Alex Moggridge, Brian Nishii and Raymond Ma. Approximately 25 percent of the play’s dialogue is in Mandarin, with English translations projected on a screen onstage.

Playwright Hwang traveled in China in 2008 as that country geared up for the Summer Olympics. What he saw helped inspire the idea for the play.

“I went to a brand-new cultural center,” Hwang related. “It was made out of beautiful Italian woods and had a Japanese sound system—but all I noticed were the mistranslated signs and how ridiculous they were. It seemed like it would be fun to use that as the jumping-off point for a play about doing business in China.”

Chinglish is the story of Daniel, who has a great idea for his family’s sign company: score a fat contract in China, where signs for English-speaking tourists are mangled by their mistranslations. But he forgets the first rule: always bring your own translator. And when Daniel falls in love with a beautiful bureaucrat, even romance takes on a different meaning.

“It’s not even an America-versus-China difference, as much as it is a new world-versus-old world difference,” said Hwang. “The play is a comedy and seems to strike audiences as one small step toward greater cultural understanding.”

David Henry Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang

David Henry Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang

David Henry Hwang was awarded the 2012 Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award which comes with a $200,000 prize. Hwang’s plays include Bondage, Chinglish (2012 Drama Desk Award nomination), The Dance and the Railroad (1982 Drama Desk Award nomination), Family Devotions (1982 Drama Desk Award nomination), FOB (1981 Obie Award), Golden Child (1997 Obie Award, 1998 Tony Award nomination), M. Butterfly (1988 Tony Award, 1989 Pulitzer Prize finalist), and Yellow Face (2008 Obie Award, 2008 Pulitzer Prize finalist). He also wrote the libretti for three Broadway musicals: Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida (co-author), Disney’s Tarzan, and Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song (revival, 2002 Tony Award nomination). In opera, his libretti include four works with composer Philip Glass – 1000 Airplanes on the Roof, Icarus at the Edge of Time, Sound and Beauty, and The Voyage – as well as Howard Shore’s The Fly, Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar (two 2007 Grammy Awards), and Unsuk Chin’s Alice in Wonderland (Opernwelt 2007 World Premiere of the Year). Hwang penned the feature films Golden Gate, M. Butterfly, and Possession (co-author), and co-wrote the song “Solo” with Prince. He sits on the Council of the Dramatists Guild, and served on the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities by appointment of President Clinton.

On Broadway, Leigh Silverman directed Chinglish and Lisa Kron’s Well. Among many other shows, she directed the world premiere of Kron’s In the Wake, which earned an Obie Award and a Lucille Lortel Award nomination.

The design and creative team includes David Korins, sets; Nancy A. Palmatier, costumes, based on original designs by Anita Yavich; Brian MacDevitt, lighting; Darron L. West, sound; Jeff Sugg and Shawn Duan, projection design; Candace Chong, Mandarin Chinese translations; Oanh X. Nguyen, associate director; Joshua Marchesi, production manager; artistic associate Lily Fan; and Michael Suenkel, stage manager.

Following its run at South Coast Repertory, the production will be staged at the Hong Kong Arts Festival in March.

Chinglish at SCR is generously supported by Honorary Producers Yvonne and Damien Jordan and S.L. and Betty Huang/Huang Family Foundation. The play is a co-production with Berkeley Repertory Theatre.

Tickets range from $20-70. Discounts are available for full-time students, patrons 25 years of age and under, fulltime educators, seniors and groups of 10 or more. For complete information, visit:

Related Information for Chinglish
Tickets: May be purchased online at, by phone at (714) 708-5555 or by visiting the box office at 655 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa. Performances run Jan. 25-Feb. 24. Ticket prices range from $20 to $70. Low-priced preview performances run Jan. 25-31.

Performance Dates, Times:
Friday and Saturday, Jan. 25-26, at 8 p.m.
Sunday, Jan. 27, at 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday and Wednesday, Jan. 29-30, at 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Jan. 31, at 8 p.m.
Regular performances:
Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 5-6; Feb. 10, 12-13; and Feb. 17, 19-20, at 7:30 p.m.
Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 2; Feb. 7-9; Feb. 14-16; and Feb. 21-23, at 8 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday, matinees at 2:30 p.m., Feb. 2-3, Feb. 9-10, Feb. 16-17 and Feb. 23-24.
Sunday evenings at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 3, 10 and 17. Note: there is no evening performance on Sunday, Feb. 24.
ASL-interpreted: Saturday, Feb. 23, at 2:30 p.m.

Special Events:
Post-Show Discussions:
Wednesday, Feb. 6, and Tuesday, Feb. 12. Discuss the play with cast members of the Chinglish during free post-show discussions led by South Coast Repertory’s literary team. Segerstrom Stage.

Inside the Season: Saturday, Feb. 9, from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Led by members of SCR’s literary staff, this lively two-hour session features in-depth interviews with cast members and artists from SCR’s production staff, revealing secrets and offering insights into SCR’s production of Chinglish. The event includes an in-depth interview with an actor from the show, insight from a member of the production team, plus a guided tour of the set.. Segerstrom Stage. Tickets are $12 and may be purchased in advance or at the door.

Location: South Coast Repertory is located at 655 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa, at the Bristol Street/Avenue of the Arts exit off the San Diego (405) Freeway in the Folino Theater Center, part of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Parking is available on Park Center Drive, off Anton Blvd.

Tony Award-winning South Coast Repertory, founded in 1964 by David Emmes and Martin Benson and now under the leadership of Artistic Director Marc Masterson and Managing Director Paula Tomei, is widely recognized as one of the leading professional theatres in the United States. SCR is committed to theatre that illuminates the compelling personal and social issues of our time, not only on its stages but through its wide array of education and outreach programs. While its productions represent a balance of classic and modern theatre, SCR is renowned for its extensive new-play development program, which includes the nation’s largest commissioning program for emerging and established writers and composers. Each year, it showcases some of country’s best new plays in the Pacific Playwrights Festival, which attracts theatre professionals from across the country. Of SCR’s more than 460 productions, one-quarter have been world premieres, whose subsequent stagings achieved enormous success throughout America and around the world. Two SCR-developed works have won Pulitzer Prizes, and another eight were named Pulitzer finalists. In addition, SCR works have won several OBIE Awards and scores of major new-play awards. Located in Costa Mesa, California, SCR’s Folino Theater Center is home to the 507-seat Segerstrom Stage, the 336-seat Julianne Argyros Stage and the 94-seat Nicholas Studio. Today, SCR produces 13 shows and eight public readings each season. More information is available at

Articles by Lia Chang:
Ruy Iskandar and Yuekun Wu Set for Signature Theatre’s Production of David Henry Hwang’s The Dance and The Railroad, February 5 – March 17, 2013
Photos: Partying with the Cast of David Henry Hwang’s Golden Child; Extended Run Ends December 16, 2012
Signature Theatre’s Production of Golden Child by David Henry Hwang has been extended through December 16, 2012
Greg Watanabe, Julyana Soelistyo and Jennifer Lim Lead the Cast of Signature Theatre’s Production of David Henry Hwang’s Golden Child, October 23-December 2, 2012
David Henry Hwang to Receive the 2012 Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award at the 5th Annual Steinberg Playwright “Mimi” Awards on October 29, 2012
Berkeley Rep’s Production Photos of David Henry Hwang’s Chinglish, Starring Michelle Krusiec and Alex Moggridge, Extends through October 21, 2012
Photos: David Henry Hwang, Oskar Eustis, BD Wong, Brian d’Arcy James, Francis Jue, Jennifer Lim and Leigh Silverman at WNYC’s The Greene Space
Click here for other articles on David Henry Hwang.

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

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

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