David Henry Hwang Additional Biography


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

David Henry Hwang was born in Los Angeles on August 11, 1957, the son of Henry Yuan Hwang, a banker, and Dorothy Huang Hwang, a professor of piano. His father grew up in Shanghai, China, and emigrated in the late 1940’s to California, where he enrolled in the business program at the University of Southern California. His mother, born in southeastern China, had grown up in the Philippines.

Hwang received his A.B. degree in English from Stanford University in 1979, then briefly taught writing in a high school in Menlo Park, California, before attending the Yale School of Drama in 1980 and 1981. His first play, F.O.B., was performed at Stanford University before being accepted for production at the National Playwrights Conference at Connecticut’s O’Neill Theater Center in 1979, when he was twenty-one years old. The following year, Joseph Papp brought it to the New York Shakespeare Festival’s Public Theatre, Off-Broadway. It won an Obie Award for the best new play of the season.

Like F.O.B., Hwang’s next two plays focused on the Chinese American experience. The Dance and the Railroad depicts two nineteenth century immigrants working on the transcontinental railroad, while Family Devotions is a bizarre farce set in contemporary California.

His next two plays, jointly titled Sound and Beauty, are stylized one-act plays set in contemporary Japan; they were produced Off-Broadway in 1983. The first, The House of Sleeping Beauties, reinvents a novella by Yasunari Kawabata, making the author a character in a version of his own work. The second, The Sound of a Voice, involves a conflict between a samurai warrior and a bewitching female hermit whom he intends to kill.

In 1983, Hwang received a Rockefeller playwright-in-residence award and a National Endowment for the Arts artistic associate fellowship. A Guggenheim Fellowship followed in 1984, as did fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts in 1985. On September 25, 1985, he married Ophelia Y. M. Chong, an artist, from whom he was later divorced.

Rich Relations, produced Off-Broadway in 1986, was his first work not about the Asian experience and his first critical failure, though it recapitulated various themes from his earlier plays. Nevertheless, Hwang has termed this failure exhilarating, freeing him...

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(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

David Henry Hwang (wong) has been a prominent playwright for the American stage since the early 1980’s. Best known for M. Butterfly, Hwang typically questions traditional racial and gender stereotypes, complicates notions of cultural identity, and chronicles the Asian American experience in the United States.

The son of banker Henry Yuan Hwang and piano professor Dorothy Yu (Huang) Hwang, Hwang grew up in Los Angeles in the 1960’s and 1970’s. His parents were both immigrant Chinese Americans. As a child, Hwang studied classical violin for ten years and later played jazz beginning in his college years, a musical upbringing and calling that influenced many of his dramatic works, most notably M....

(The entire section is 1322 words.)


(Drama for Students)

David Henry Hwang was born on August 11, 1957 in Los Angeles, California. His father, Henry Hwang, was a banker who had immigrated to the...

(The entire section is 496 words.)


(Drama for Students)

David Henry Hwang was born on August 11, 1957, in Los Angeles, California, to his immigrant parents, Henry Yuan, a native of Shanghai, China,...

(The entire section is 547 words.)