A titan of the American theater, David Henry Hwang has written several highly acclaimed dramas, opera libretti, and screenplays. Hwang’s accolades include being a Tony-award winner for his 1988 play M. Butterfly, a three-time Obie Award recipient for many of his off-Broadway plays, two Grammy prizes (one of which he co-wrote with the late pop icon Prince), and Pultizer Prize finalist for Yellow Face and M. Butterfly. Other awards include his nomination to former President Bill Clinton’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities as well as his participation on the board of the Lark Play Development Center. Many of Hwang’s stories recount the intricacies of being Chinese and American and the struggle to reconcile one’s identity in a changing world. In 2011, he wrote the play Chinglish, which was about an American businessman trying to break into the Chinese market. The play explores the complexities of Chinese culture that go dar beyond simply understanding the language.
From discussing Chinese railroad strikes via opera libretti to unpacking the problems of racial type-casting in Yellow Face, Hwang remains a prominent leader in presenting the Chinese-American immigrant experience. He is currently the head of playwriting at Columbia University School of the Arts and chair of the American Theater Wing, which is the founding organization for the Tony Awards. For future works, Hwang is preparing a live-action musical of The Hunchback of Notre Dame for Disney Studios and is touring his new play Soft Power alongside musical composer Jeanine Tesori.