Who says that blogs can’t be giant filing cabinets?
Here’s a link to a NY Times interview with David Henry Hwang (most famously the author of the play M. Butterfly) about his new play Yellow Face. The play apparently features a character names D.H.H., who shares significant history with the playwright himself (thus giving my postmodernism students the chills. or making them gag). Meanwhile, the plot centers around a very particular conflict: apparently, D.H.H. casts a white actor thinking that he’s a mixed-race Asian American, and then believes that he has to cover up his mistake in order to retain his own reputation as an Asian American role model. In the interview, Hwang explains what’s at stake:
For instance, the fact that the D. H. H. character in this play mistakes a white man for being part Asian. That’s actually a perfectly understandable mistake, because you can’t necessarily tell by looking anymore.
You can’t tell by the last name. You aren’t allowed to ask at auditions, legally, a person’s race. So what does race really start to mean when you add all that up?
I’m fascinated by the idea that Hwang sees this as a means of investigating the depths of race as a whole, but doesn’t mention the particular context of mixed-race identity here. I realize that the first might encompass the second, but mixed-race identity in Asian American circles is no small deal; it’s linked to vexed political/historical relationships (e.g., war and post-war military occupations), deep-seated resentments about intermarriage, etc., etc. Surely that’s got to play a role here?
Yellow Face opens Dec. 10 at the Public Theater (and apparently only runs through the 23? Website info here.) If I can get into the city to see it, I’ll post a review.