DAVID HENRY HWANG Biography - Writers


Biography » writers » david henry hwang


David Henry Hwang                                                                 
Birth name David Henry Hwang                                                       
Born August 11, 1957 (age 50)                                                     
Origin Los Angeles, California                                                     
Occupation(s) Playwright, Screenwriter, Television Writer, Librettist, Lyricist   
Years active 1980-present                                                         
David Henry Hwang (born August 11, 1957) is a contemporary 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 Stanford University     
and the Yale School of Drama. His first play was produced at the Okada House       
dormitory at Stanford and he briefly studied playwriting with Sam Shepard and     
Mara Irene Forns.                                                                 
Hwang's work for the stage includes FOB, The Dance and the Railroad, Family               
Devotions, The House of Sleeping Beauties (adapted from Yasunari Kawabata's               
novella House of the Sleeping Beauties), The Sound of a Voice, As the Crow Flies,         
Rich Relations, M. Butterfly, Bondage, Face Value, Trying to Find Chinatown,               
Bang Kok, Golden Child, an adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's Peer Gynt (co-written             
with Stephan Muller), Jade Flowerpots and Bound Feet, the children's play Tibet           
Through the Red Box (based upon Peter Sis' book), and Yellow Face.                         
His music-theatre work includes the texts for Philip Glass' 1000 Airplanes on             
the Roof, The Voyage, and The Sound of a Voice, the book for Elton John and Tim           
Rice's Aida (co-written by Linda Woolverton and Robert Falls), the Walt Disney             
Company's theatrical version of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan (with music and               
lyrics by Phil Collins), the libretti for Bright Sheng's The Silver River,                 
Osvaldo Golijov's Ainadamar, and Unsuk Chin's Alice in Wonderland as well as               
Rodgers and Hammerstein's Flower Drum Song.                                               
He has also written a number of screenplays, including David Cronenberg's                 
adaptation of M. Butterfly, John Madden's Golden Gate, and Neil LaBute's                   
Possession (co-written with Laura Jones and LaBute, adapted from the novel by A.           
S. Byatt). He also wrote the teleplay for the NBC mini-series The Lost Empire,             
directed by Peter MacDonald. He served as a script advisor for the film Picture           
Bride. In 2003, Susan Hoffman directed a film adaptation of The Sound of a Voice           
entitled Sound of a Voice, written by and starring Lane Nishikawa and Natsuko             
As another extension of his interests, he penned the texts for three dance                 
pieces: Ruby Shang's Yellow Punk Dolls and Dances in Exile as well as Maureen             
Fleming's After Eros (with music by Philip Glass). He also co-wrote the Prince             
song "Solo" for his album Come.                                                           
In 1999, Hwang starred in a short film by Greg Pak called Asian Pride Porn,               
which combined humor and serious social commentary to parody the Asian fetish             
and the prevalence of Asian fetish pornography. As himself, he has appeared in             
the documentary films Hollywood Chinese, Happy Birthday Oscar Wilde, and                   
Literary Visions.                                                                         
He has been awarded numerous grants, including fellowships from the National               
Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations, the New York           
State Council on the Arts, and the Pew Charitable Trusts. He has been honored             
with awards from the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund , the                 
Association for Asian Pacific American Artists, the Museum of Chinese in the               
Americas, the East West Players, the Organization of Chinese Americans, the               
Media Action Network for Asian Americans, the Center for Migration Studies, the           
Asian American Resource Workshop, the China Institute, and the New York                   
Foundation for the Arts. In 1998, the nation's oldest Asian American theatre               
company, the East West Players, christened its new mainstage The David Henry               
Hwang Theatre.                                                                             
Mr. Hwang sits on the boards of the Dramatists Guild, Young Playwrights Inc.,             
and the Museum of Chinese in the Americas. He conducts interviews on arts-related         
topics for the national PBS cable television show Asian America. From 1994-2001,           
he served by appointment of President Bill Clinton on the President's Committee           
on the Arts and the Humanities.                                                           
David Henry Hwang holds honorary degrees from Columbia College in Chicago and             
The American Conservatory Theatre. He lives in New York City with his wife,               
actress Kathryn Layng, and their children, Noah David and Eva Veanne.