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M. Butterfly

M. Butterfly
Your Price: $19.50 CDN
Author: David Henry Hwang
Publisher: Dramatists Play Service
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 72
Pub. Date: 1998
ISBN-10: 0822207125
ISBN-13: 9780822207122
Cast Size: 3 women, 7 men (3 of the 7 men are nonspeaking roles)

About the Play:

Finalist for the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Winner of the 1988 Tony Award

M. Butterfly is a full-length drama by David Henry Hwang. Clever parallels to the famous opera Madame Butterfly abound in the strange tale of a French diplomat who carried on a twenty year relationship with a beautiful Chinese opera star without (he contended) being aware that his "perfect woman" was really a spyand a man. Inspired by an actual espionage scandal that stunned the world, M. Butterfly becomes a powerful metaphor for the exploration of deeper themes; the perception of Eastern culture by the West, and the persistent romanticism which clouds and inhibits that perception.

M. Butterfly is inspired by a bizarre true story of illusion, obsession and betrayal. Bored with his routine posting in Beijing, and awkward with women, Rene Gallimard, a French diplomat, is easy prey for the subtle, delicate charms of Song Liling, a Chinese opera star who touches him with a love as vivid, as seductive – and as elusive – as a butterfly, and personifies Gallimard's fantasy vision of submissive, exotic oriental sexuality. He begins an affair with "her" that lasts for twenty years, during which time he passes along diplomatic secrets, an act that, eventually, brings on his downfall and imprisonment. Interspersed with scenes between the two lovers are others with Gallimard's wife and colleagues that underscore the irony of Gallimard's delusion and its curious parallel to the events of Puccini's famous opera Madame Butterfly. Combining realism and ritual with vivid theatricality, the play reaches its astonishing climax when Song Liling, before our very eyes, strips off his female attire and assumes his true masculinity – a revelation that the deluded Gallimard can neither credit nor accept and which drives him finally – and fatally – deep within the fantasy with which, over the years, he has held the truth at bay. Hailed as a modern classic, M. Butterfly deftly skewers the perception of Eastern culture by the West and the persistent objectification that clouds it.

M. Butterfly premiered in 1988 at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre and became the first Asian American play to be produced on Broadway. It was an immediate critical and popular success winning a Tony Award, Drama Desk Award, John Gassner Award, and Outer Critics Circle Award, and was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Revived on Broadway in 2017, M. Butterfly is brilliant theatrical tour de force that has been staged in over four dozen countries.

Cast: 3 female, 7 mmale (3 of the 7 male are nonspeaking roles)

What people say:

"With M. Butterfly David Henry Hwang joins the first string of American playwrights. This is an audaciously imaginative play, big in conception and theme, and a satisfying instance of a talented writer hitting full stride." — Variety

"Of all the young dramatists at work in America today, none is more audacious, imaginative, or gifted than David Henry Hwang…." — The New Yorker

"It will move you, it will thrill you, it may even surprise you. It is a play not to be missed, and it is a play once caught that will never be forgotten." — New York Post

"A brilliant play of ideas ... a visionary work that bridges the history and culture of two worlds." — The New York Times

"Just when you've seen every possible coupling, M. Butterfly presents one of the most provocative and touching of all." — USA Today

"Playwright David Henry Hwang has something to say and an original, audacious way of saying it. A rarity on Broadway." — Wall Street Journal

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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