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Voices from the Head

Ace Gallery Los Angeles presents techno-artist Kenneth Feingold He stares. His voice is striking as he eyes me face-to-face, mano-a-mano. But he’s not human. He’s a computer—or rather, a computer ... read more

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A Gallerist Revealed

As Zabriskie Gallery celebrates more than 50 years in operation, its namesake’s dedication to art remains unwavering Though many words could be used to describe her career path, Virginia Zabriskie ... read more

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Phyllis George

Founder, Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft Phyllis George was the belle of the ball at this year’s Bourbon Ball, a yearly Louisville, Kentucky event that raises funds to benefit the Kentucky Museum ... read more

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714 Westbourne

Designed by Bruno Bondanelli for Monte Stettin Not all duplexes in West Hollywood attract spillover crowds at their open houses. The exceptions are the units on Westbourne Avenue developed by Monte... read more

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Marguerite Rodgers

  Designer Marguerite Rodgers is never one to miss an opportunity, though she has been known to see opportunity in strange places. “Some of my best work comes out of solving a problem,” the Philadelp... read more

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MAGNI

MAGNI Home Collection’s “Jewel” side table is a structural, perfectly balanced work of shimmering bronze and hand-cut glass. The airiness of the minimalist design plays beautifully against the subs... read more

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The Marriott In China

Hospitality Becomes Art In China, guests expect more than just a comfortable bed and free Wi-Fi. “Everything must relate to luxury,” explains Karen Kim, senior director of interior design for Marr... read more

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A California Winemaker’s Dinner

From Food to Philanthropy Who would have imagined that the delectable art of pairing fine wines and five-star cuisine would, eighteen years later, bring over fourteen million dollars to a worthy ca... read more

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A South Pacific Scene

In the heart of the South Pacific, a new artists’ space is making waves, promising an interactive experience for the true art aficionado Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? Th... read more

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Joe Arancio

SVP Digital Distribution, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Joe Arancio is not your typical entertainment studio power titan. He doesn’t wear the mantle of success for all to see. He isn’t surrounde... read more

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Christopher Lowell

Design Personality “I create 24/7. If I’m awake, I’m creating something,” says design personality Christopher Lowell. A man with “a finger in many pies,” he could just as easily be called an anthro... read more

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Cheng Li, George Koo & Edmond Pi

CHENG LI, GEORGE KOO & EDMOND PI   PRESTIGIOUS CHINESE AMERICANS MAKE A DIFFERENCE ... read more

Category: Performing Arts

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Playwright with the Right Stuff

David Henry Hwang romances the word

By Judy Seckler

From the beginning, playwright David Henry Hwang found the theater fascinating because of the way in which words could fill a stage.

"Theater is inherently metaphorical. Film is supposed to be real," he observes, reflecting on more than 30 years of experience as a scribe of plays, film, librettos, TV and texts for dance. Thus, Hwang’s ideas for characters in a play often come from unexpected places. In a seminal workshop with Sam Shepard, he learned how to write from his unconscious.

 

 

Hwang's rise to fame in the thespian world came at a time when impresarios like the renowned Joseph Papp were looking for stories by women and minority voices that hadn't been told. By the time Papp presented Hwang's play F.O.B. at the New York Shakespeare Festival, Hwang’s career was in full bloom.

At the time, Hwang found a creative partner in composer Lucia Hwong, and he credits her music with enhancing his theatrical language. Their collaboration reached a crescendo with the success of Hwang's Tony Award-winning musical M. Butterfly.

Hwang shaped the play from a newspaper story of a French diplomat betrayed by his supposed female Chinese lover, who was both a man and a spy. He wove into the play the storyline of Giacomo Puccini’s celebrated opera Madame Butterfly, in which a Japanese woman in love with a Western man is rejected and commits suicide.

"David is a genius," says Hwong. "Every character [he created] was so deep, so emotional, so elegant."

When writing, Hwang allows an idea to percolate for a year until he falls in love with it. Along the way, the work must pose a question that results in catharsis, and there must be a clear path demarcating start and finish. He also looks at other successful plays to model his structure.

One of his recent rewarding projects was Ainadamar, an opera collaboration between composer Osvaldo Golijov and Hwang, who wrote the libretto. It won two Grammys in 2007 and has become "the most performed modern opera since John Adams' Nixon in China," says Hwang.

Next up is Chinglish, a comedic play set to open in Chicago in 2011, in which an American businessman becomes lost in translation as he tries to do a business deal in China. "Internationalism is the new multiculturalism," he says.