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Yellow Face (2007) is a play by David Henry Hwang, featuring the author himself as the protagonist. It premiered in Los Angeles at the Mark Taper Forum in association with East West Players and had its Off-Broadway premiere at the Joseph Papp Public Theater.
Mixing fact and fiction, Yellow Face is partly autobiographical, with the character Hwang putting on Hwang's play, Face Value. Yellow Face is a satire that raises deep questions of what race really means, how politics and media function in society, what America really stands for, the importance of both fact and fiction, and who we are. Mr. Hwang talks about Yellow Face at this event.
In 2008, it was revealed that Yellow Face gave Hwang his third Obie Award in Playwriting and made him a third-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama
FACT: When the musical Miss Saigon transferred from London to New York City, there was a controversy over the casting of Jonathan Pryce, a white British actor, in an Asian role. Although Hwang receives a lot of publicity about his protests against the casting, particularly as the first Asian-American playwright to win a Tony (for M. Butterfly), the production of Miss Saigon continues without changes to the cast.
FICTION IN THE PLAY: In the play Yellow Face, the character Hwang accidentally casts a white man, Marcus G. Dahlman, as an Asian in one of the leading roles of his play, Face Value. Comedy ensues as Hwang is first convinced and then tries to convince other people that Marcus has Asian ancestry as a Jew from Siberia. Hwang realizes that Marcus has no Asian blood, but by then, Face Value has cost $2 million and Hwang tries to cover up his mistake. Marcus, however, continues playing his role as an Asian in all parts of his life, becoming an activist for Asian rights, angering Hwang who views him as an "ethnic tourist."
As Marcus' true identity reveals him as Caucasian, Hwang finally has to come clean about Marcus, and about himself.