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F.O.B. and The House of Sleeping Beauties: Two Plays

F.O.B. and The House of Sleeping Beauties: Two Plays
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: David Henry Hwang
Publisher: Dramatists Play Service (cover may change)
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 84
Pub. Date: 1983
Edition: Acting
ISBN-10: 0822204134
ISBN-13: 9780822204138

About the Play:

FOB has long been a favourite of acting teachers for Female Monologues, Male Monologues, Female/Male Scenes, and Three-Person Scenes.

FOB and The House of Sleeping Beauties contains two one-act dramas by David Henry Hwang. FOB explores the conflicts and similarities between two Chinese Americans and a Chinese exchange student still steeped in the customs and beliefs of the old world. The House of Sleeping Beauties is based on a short story by the famed Japanese novelist Yasunari Kawabata. Set in a very different kind of brothel, this brilliant fantasy is both touching and revealing as it probes gently, but ever deeper, into the needs and emotions of its characters.

FOB is an early play that explores the intra-cultural tensions between "fresh-off-the-boat" Chinese-Americans and ABCs (America-born Chinese) who don't want to be reminded of their origins. It is told in a style that moves quickly between myth and reality, with the characters occasionally speaking directly to the audience. Grace and Dale are cousins, living in the Los Angeles area and attending college. Dale is fully American, second generation. Grace is first generation and holds the customs of China in higher regard. The arrival of Steve, an exchange student and a newcomer from China, fresh off the boat, forces them to confront a number of conflicting feelings about America, China and themselves. Dale is very confrontational with Steve, mocking his English and manner. And in turn Steve is defiant and even provocative. Grace tries to keep the conflict from escalating but finds herself increasingly drawn to Steve. Grace decides to go with Steve to a school dance and an uneasy truce, of sorts, is reached between Dale and Steve. FOB has become a favourite scene study vehicle in acting classes and workshops. (Premiered at the Public Theater in 1980 and won the 1981 Obie Award for Best New American Play; Cast: 1 female, 2 male)

In The House of Sleeping Beauties a well-known novelist, Kawabata, visits a brothel in order to learn why older men frequent it. However this establishment is quite different from what he expected. Here the men simply sleep in the same bed with the beautiful young women provided, and the women never awaken or see them. The madam who runs the home carefully screens all of her potential guests and only accepts men who she deems worthy. Kawabata intends to write about the house, but slowly falls under its spell and finds himself unable to write the piece. He is troubled by thoughts of his own mortality and the suicide of his friend, the author Mishima. But the madam soothes him and with the aid of a mild sleeping potion, Kawabata finally sleeps. In the end he is able to write the story and has achieved an inner peace. With his newfound tranquility, he asks the madam to make him some tea, but instead of the sleeping powder, he wants her to add a poison to it. Both the novelist and the madam drink the tea and slowly drift off to sleep. (Premiered at the Public Theater in 1983; Cast: 1 female, 1 male)

What people say:

"David Henry Hwang knows America – its vernacular, its social landscape, its theatrical traditions. He knows the same about China. In his plays, he manages to mix both of these conflicting cultures until he arrives at a style that is wholly his own. Hwang's works have the verve of the well-made American stage comedies and yet, with little warning, they bubble over into the mystical rituals of Asian stagecraft. By at once bringing West and East into conflict and unity, this playwright has found the perfect way to dramatize both the pain and the humor of the immigrant experience." — The New York Times

About the Playwright:

David Henry Hwang is a Chinese American playwright, librettist, and screenwriter, described by The New York Times as "a true original" and by TIME magazine as "the first important dramatist of American public life since Arthur Miller." Throughout his career, he has explored the complexities of forging Eastern and Western cultures in a contemporary America. His extraordinary body of work, over the past 30 years, has been marked by a deep desire to reaffirm the common humanity in all of us. He is best known as the author of M. Butterfly, which won the 1988 Tony, Drama Desk, John Gassner, and Outer Critics Circle Awards, and was also a finalist for the 1989 Pulitzer Prize. In 2012, he won the $200,000 US Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award, the richest theatre prize in the U.S.

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