David Henry Hwang: Authenticity and its Discontents

26 January 2017

This Thursday, Jan 26, 2017 at Weitz Cinema, David Henry Hwang, a Tony Award-winning playwright, musical librettist, and TV writer, will share his life-long and elusive search for cultural and artistic authenticity. He is best known for his Tony Award-winning play M. Butterfly (1988), based on the true story of a French diplomat who had a long affair with a singer in the Beijing opera. The woman he loved later proved to be not only a man but also a spy for the Chinese government.

Hwang concerns about the fluidity and the authenticity of identity. In an interview with US ASIAN, Hwang shares that most of his work, if not all, is “in some sense a creative experiment/exploration in search of authenticity.”

In another interview with Asia Society, Hwang discloses: “I have spent a good deal of my adult life searching for authentic images of my cultural heritage. The deeper I have looked, however, the more slippery a concept authenticity itself has become. The pieces I have selected, clearly impressive from our modern vantage point, might have been considered inauthentic by cultural purists of their day. They are the product of intercultural mixing, aesthetic fusion, and mongrelization, and therefore remind me very much of myself.”

Hwang’s visit to Carleton is supported by the Christopher U. Light Lectureship with additional support from American Studies and Arts@Carleton.