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Trying to Find Chinatown and Bondage

Trying to Find Chinatown and Bondage
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: David Henry Hwang
Publisher: Dramatists Play Service (cover may change)
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 47
Pub. Date: 1996
Edition: Acting
ISBN-10: 0822215527
ISBN-13: 9780822215523

About the Play:

Trying to Find Chinatown and Bondage contains two one-act dramas by David Henry Hwang. An Asian street musician and a Caucasian man who claims Asian-American heritage meet by chance in New York City in Trying to Find Chinatown – an exploration of racial identity and appearance. An encounter in an S&M parlour between a man and woman in full bodysuits sets the scene for Bondage, where their role play examines racial stereotypes and sexual myths.

Trying to Find Chinatown deals with issues of racial identity by pitting an Asian street musician against a Caucasian man who claims Asian American heritage. Lost on his way to Chinatown, Benjamin asks Ronnie for directions. Ronnie, playing his violin on the street for money, is offended that just because he looks Asian he automatically knows where Chinatown is. Caucasian looking, Benjamin was adopted by an Asian-American family at birth. He revels in his heritage and is looking for the house where his father was born. Ronnie, on the other hand, throws himself into all things American and finds it hard to sympathize with Benjamin who, when he finds his father's house, is filled with a special elation. (Premiered in 1996 at the Actors Theatre of Louisville; Cast: 2 male)

Bondage: In a Los Angeles S&M parlour, a dominatrix and her client are clad head-to-toe in leather costumes that conceal their faces and ethnicities. These elaborate disguises allow them to play out fantasies based on racial stereotypes and sexual mythologies: She pretends to be an African-American woman to his white, liberal man; he transforms into an Asian-American and she into a blond WASP, etc. Exchanging biting social observations with stinging humour, they progress through their power games to expose the arbitrariness of racially minded thinking. All the while, however, they are haunted by an awareness that in spite of their efforts, they may be moving towards the most terrifying reality of all – a true intimacy that transcends the bounds of race. (Premiered in 1992 at the Actors Theatre of Louisville; Cast: 1 female, 1 male)

What people say:

"…the author of M. Butterfly proves to be a wry observer of contemporary mores and racial stereotypes." — The New York Times

"Bondage is an intriguing piece of writing by one of the most intelligent and original…voices in the American theater." — Detroit News

"[Bondage is] an exploration of race, love and politics in the weirdest possible contortions." — Northwest Asian Weekly

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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