Moderated by journalist/critic Ken Smith, playwrights David Henry Hwang (ACC 2011, 2012) and Candace Chong Mui Ngam (ACC 2004, 2012) discuss their playwrighting processes in the context of historic and current events. Watch the full recording below or on ACC's YouTube Channel, or find a written recap at https://bit.ly/dhhcctalk.
David Henry Hwang (playwright) is a Tony Award winner and three-time nominee, a three-time OBIE Award winner, and a three-time Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His stage works include the plays M. Butterfly, Chinglish, Yellow Face, Kung Fu, Golden Child, The Dance and the Railroad, and FOB, as well as the Broadway musicals Elton John & Tim Rice’s Aida (co-author), Flower Drum Song (2002 revival) and Disney’s Tarzan. Hwang is also the most-produced living American opera librettist, whose works have been honored with two Grammy Awards, co-wrote the Gold Record Solo with the late pop icon Prince, and worked from 2015-2019 as a Writer/Consulting Producer for the Golden Globe-winning television series The Affair. He is currently writing the live-action musical feature film The Hunchback of Notre Dame for Disney Studios and a movie to star actress Gemma Chan. Hwang serves on the Board of the Lark Play Development Center, as Head of Playwriting at Columbia University School of the Arts, and as Chair of the American Theatre Wing, founder of the Tony Awards. M. Butterfly recently returned to Broadway in a revival directed by Julie Taymor, which marked Mr. Hwang’s eighth Broadway production. His newest work, Soft Power, a collaboration with composer Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home), premiered at Los Angeles’ Ahmanson Theatre, where it won six Ovation Awards. Its subsequent run at the Public Theatre in NYC received four Outer Critics Honors, eleven Drama Desk Nominations, and was a Finalist for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in Drama.
He received an ACC Fellowship in 2011 to conduct writing workshops with young playwrights at the Singapore Repertory Theatre and in 2012 during his Playwright-in-Residency at Signature Theatre Company towards a symposium and reading series with artists from China, Hong Kong, and the Chinese diaspora.
Candace Chong Mui Ngam (playwright) is a recipient of the Best Artist Award (Drama) by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council (2010). She was selected by the South China Morning Post as one of Hong Kong’s 25 most inspirational and influential women. In 2003, she was awarded “Outstanding Young Playwright” by the Hong Kong Federation of Drama Societies. In 2004, she was awarded a yearlong ACC Fellowship to attend classes and workshops in playwriting, observe performances and rehearsals, and meet drama professionals in the United States. She was also a participant in the 2012 grant to Signature Theatre with David Henry Hwang. Apart from writing spoken drama, Chong has also collaborated in musical theatre as a book writer and librettist. She is also a translator of plays. Chong has won six Hong Kong Drama Awards (Best Script) including her recent work May 35th.
Ken Smith (journalist/critic) has covered arts and culture on five continents for a wide array of print, broadcast and internet media. Since 2004 he has divided his time between New York and Hong Kong, where he is the Asian Performing Arts Critic of London’s Financial Times. Winner of the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for distinguished music writing, he is the author of Fate! Luck! Chance!: The Making of “The Bonesetter’s Daughter” Opera. As a partner in Museworks Limited, he has served as a consultant to many cross-cultural projects, including David Henry Hwang’s bilingual Broadway comedy Chinglish and Kung Fu, a musical based on the life of Bruce Lee for New York’s Signature Theatre. With his wife Joanna C. Lee, he co-founded Museworks Books, publishers of Pocket Chinese Classics and the annual Pocket Chinese Almanac.