Wong Huang Butterfly Hwang

A rerun of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit went past a little while ago, featuring BD Wong as forensic psychiatrist George Huang. That gives us Wong and Huang so far, but then on to Wong in his breakout role as Song Liling in David Henry Hwang’s play M. Butterfly on Broadway.

Then D. H.  Hwang turned up in the NYT Magazine on Sunday, in Alex Witchel’s profile, “The Man Who Can Make Bruce Lee Talk: For his next feat, the playwright David Henry Hwang reimagines an icon”.

On names, I’ll throw in two linguists — Bill Wang and Jim Huang — and my primary surgeon for the necrotizing fasciitis disaster in 2003, Karen Whang.

On to BD Wong. From Wikipedia:

Bradley Darryl “BD” Wong (born October 24, 1960) is an American actor [born and raised in San Francisco], best known for his roles as Dr. George Huang on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, as Father Ray Mukada on HBO’s Oz, Henry Wu in the movie Jurassic Park, and for his Tony Award winning role as Song Liling in the Broadway production of M. Butterfly. He starred as Dr. Lee on NBC series Awake from March to May 2012.

And then the gay connection: Wong

… began a long-term relationship with talent agent Richie Jackson in 1988. In 2000, Wong had twin sons: Boaz Dov, who died 90 minutes after birth, and Jackson Foo Wong. They were born through a surrogate mother, using Wong’s sperm and an egg donated by Jackson’s sister. In 2003, Wong wrote a memoir about his experiences with surrogacy titled Following Foo: the Electronic Adventures of the Chestnut Man. Wong and Jackson ended their relationship in 2004.

On M. Butterfly:

a 1988 play by David Henry Hwang loosely based on the relationship between French diplomat Bernard Boursicot and Shi Pei Pu, a male Peking opera singer.

The play premiered on Broadway at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre on March 20, 1988, closing after 777 performances on January 27, 1990. It was directed by John Dexter with stars John Lithgow as Gallimard and BD Wong as Song Liling. David Dukes, Anthony Hopkins, Tony Randall, and John Rubinstein played Gallimard at various times during the original run.

… The play was inspired by Giacomo Puccini’s opera Madama Butterfly. The first act introduces the main character, Rene Gallimard, who is a civil servant attached to the French embassy in China. He falls in love with a beautiful Chinese opera diva, Song Liling, who is actually a man masquerading as a woman. In traditional Beijing opera, females were banned from the stage; all female roles (dan) were played by males. (link)

Then on the playwright (who happens to be straight):

David Henry Hwang (… born August 11, 1957) is an American playwright who has risen to prominence as the preeminent Asian American dramatist in the U.S.

He was born in Los Angeles, California, and was educated at the Yale School of Drama and Stanford University. His first play was produced at the Okada House dormitory at Stanford (link)

(Cheer for Stanford here.)

More recently, in the local arts news (San Jose Mercury-News) earlier in the fall:

Playwright David Henry Hwang has created another mesmerizing work with his latest endeavor, “Chinglish,” playing at Berkeley Repertory Theatre through Oct. 7.

In this witty study of cross-cultural errors, the author of “M. Butterfly” and “FOB” takes his audience on a fascinating trip to China as an American businessman attempts to land a lucrative contract for his family’s firm. Of course, he doesn’t speak Chinese, and the Chinese translators often don’t have the best grasp of English, resulting in hilarious situations.

Now he’s working on a new play, Kung Fu, based on the life of martial artist Bruce Lee. The NYT piece examines, among other things, his complex relationship with his father and his Chinese ancestry.


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