David Henry Hwang Biography
(1957– ), F. O. B, The Dance and The Railroad, Family Devotions, Sound and Beauty
American playwright and screenwriter, born in Los Angeles, educated at Stanford University. His first play, F. O. B (1979), which won an Obie Award for the best Off-Broadway play of 1980–1, was followed by The Dance and The Railroad (1980), concerning a strike by Chinese railroad labourers in 1867, and Family Devotions (1981), which satirizes dogmatic religious faith in its portrayal of a wealthy, fundamentalist Chinese-American family in conflict with their newly arrived Chinese relatives. Sound and Beauty (1983), a double bill, marked a departure from Hwang's Chinese-American themes: the first part, The Sound of a Voice, was set in seventeenth-century Japan; the second, The House of Sleeping Beauties, placed Nobel Prize-winner Yasunari Kawabata in the setting of his own novella and was published together with Hwang's first three plays in Broken Promises: Four Plays (1983). Rich Relations and As The Crow Flies were produced in 1986. His play M. Butterfly won the 1988 Tony Award for the best Broadway play and was later filmed; loosely based on a real event, the play focuses on the revelation that a French diplomat had had a twenty-year relationship with a woman who was not only a spy for the Chinese government but a man. Hwang collaborated with composer Phillip Glass in 1000 Airplanes on the Roof (1988) and wrote the libretto for Glass's opera The Voyage (1992). His most recent work has included several screenplays and the plays Bondage (1992) and Face Value (1993). See also Asian-American Literature.