David Henry Hwang's YELLOW FACE Announced At Lyric Stage Boston

An Asian-American playwright and activist gets tangled in a complicated and humorous web of lies as he struggles to win back his integrity.

By: May. 17, 2024
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Lyric Stage Boston closes out the 2024/25 season with David Henry Hwang's semi-autobiographical satirical comedy, Yellow Face. 

Directed by Ted Hewlett°, this engrossing and surprisingly humorous look at race and assimilation questions how well-intentioned motives can lead to hypocrisy and misdeeds. In a scramble to make things right, an uncomfortable situation gets even more tangled and fractured leaving many newfound realizations along the way. 

Truth and fiction blur in David Henry Hwang's satiric memoir about DHH, a playwright plunged into a whirlpool of missteps and unintentional hypocrisy after a vocal protest against the casting of Jonathan Pryce as a Eurasian hustler in the Broadway production of Miss Saigon. What he condemns as “yellowface” soon comes back to haunt him when he later misidentifies a Caucasian actor for mixed-race and casts him in his own Broadway-bound comedy. His personal integrity is compromised as he proceeds to conceal his blunder aiding the narrative of this “born-again Asian.”. Ultimately a forceful argument for representation, this provocative and comical sideways glance at race and assimilation asks “who has the ownership of a culture?” 

Director Ted Hewlett° says, “It's not that often you get to revisit the early part of your career from a totally different vantage point. As a young actor in 1991, I had been in New York for barely 6 months when the protests over Miss Saigon and the yellowface casting of Jonathan Pryce erupted. Over the next few years, as my identity continued to shift and my craft deepened, I got to play a number of roles — some Asian, some white, some under the then-current term “non-traditional casting” (not that any of us really were ‘color blind', of course). And then one night in 1993, I found myself sitting in the theatre, waiting for the curtain to rise on the new play by one of my heroes, David Henry Hwang, author of the astonishing M. Butterfly.

While Face Value closed on Broadway before it even officially opened, David Turned that disappointment into this beautiful play, tying together theatre traditions that needed to be overthrown, with threads of the “yellow peril” that always percolate in American history and periodically bubble more viciously to the fore, along with his meditations on family and self … what it means to be a father or son in the immediate here and now, and how we stand on the shoulders of our ancestors wherever they may be from. For so many, the questions of identity, culture, assimilation, being of mixed ancestry, and wondering about whether or how to be “American” never fully go away; they continue to surface, revealing another facet of the conundrum and a new perspective on ourselves.

I am so excited to work with this terrific cast and wonderful design team to bring this story to Boston — “back” to the hometown of some of the few folks who got to see Face Value in its out-of-town tryouts way back when.”

Performances begin Friday, May 31 and run through Sunday, June 23.

Featuring Michael Hisamoto*, Alexander Holden*, Mei MacQuarrie, J.B. Barricklo*, Jupiter Lê, and Jenny Lee

Scenic Design by Szu-Feng Chen, Projections Design by Megan Reilly**, Costume Design by Mikayla Reid, Lighting Design by Baron Pugh, and Sound Design by Arshan Gailus**. 

J.B. Barricklo* (HYH/Others) – Lyric Stage: Debut. The Public Theater: The Ballad of Yachiyo. Pan Asian Repertory: Teahouse of the August Moon. Ma-Yi Theater: You Can't Take It With You. National Asian American Theater Company: The Cherry Orchard, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Our Town. Lincoln Center Institute: Dragonwings. Susan Dibble Dance: Five Doors, One Room. Select Regional: An Asian Jockey in Our Midst, Yankee Dawg You Die, The Royal Hunt of the Sun, Kabuki Medea, Much Ado About Nothing. Film: Kilian's Chronicle, Longtime Companion, Bright Lights, Big City, Desire. J.B. is also the Director of Production for the Brandeis Department of Theater Arts. Thanks to Nancy, Jenna, Jonah, Adrianne, and Ted for their love and inspiration!

Michael Hisamoto* (DHH) – Lyric Stage: Hold These Truths, Stage Kiss, The Great Leap, Orlando, Fast Company, Pacific Overtures. La Jolla Playhouse/Ma-Yi Theater Company: SUMO. Trinity Repertory Company: A Christmas Carol 2019, 2022. Brown/Trinity Repertory Company: Golf Girl, Angels in America, Pericles, Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, Electra, Jar of Fat. The Huntington: Tiger Style! Hope Repertory Theatre: Hold These Truths. SpeakEasy Stage Company: Allegiance. Wheelock Family Theatre: Charlotte's Web. The Office of War Information: Yellow Face. Watertown Children's Theatre: The Important Thing About Earthquakes. Central Square Theatre: The East Side: A New Musical, Our Town: Reimagined. Flat Earth Theatre: King of Shadows. Other: MFA, Brown University/Trinity Repertory Company; BFA, Boston University, Orange County High School of the Arts. Michael is on the Board of the Seven Devils New Play Foundry and was a Co-Artistic Director with New Repertory Theatre. A champion of new work, Michael has developed hundreds of new plays across the United States. His work in theatre was recognized by the California State Assembly and Senate. MichaelHisamoto.com

Alexander Holden* (Marcus G. Dahlman) – Lyric Stage: Pacific Overtures (Soothsayer, Russian Admiral, Sailor). Greater Boston Stage Company: All is Calm (Ensemble). Moonbox Productions: Rocky Horror Show (Phantom). Dream Role Players: A Midsummer Night's Dream (Lysander). Readings: Black Samurai (Ensemble), Samurai of Blue Eyes (Narrator). Alexander is originally from Japan and spent half of his life there until coming to America. He has studied at Carnegie Mellon University as a vocal performance major and has been a part of two Elliot Norton Award nominated productions. He is grateful for all the support he gets from his family and friends and happy to be back on the stage at Lyric Stage! Instagram: @astholden

Jupiter Lê (NWOAOC/Others) – Lyric Stage: Debut. Company One:The Interrobangers (Hoover). CHUANG Stage: Skinless (Ash). Moonbox Productions: Swan (Richard). East West Players: Interstate (Dash). Fresh Ink Theatre Company: Shrike (Micah). Northeastern University: Everybody (Death), She Kills Monsters (Miles). BA: Northeastern University. Jupiter has worked with The Sống Collective, HowlRound Theatre Commons, NAATCO & Long Wharf Theatre, The Huntington, SpeakEasy Stage Company, and Asian American Playwright Collective (AAPC). He is a queer transmasculine Vietnamese-American theatre-maker, a child of immigrants born, raised, and based on the lands of the Massachusett people, known as Boston, MA. For fam and my kumquatjellypole. @jupiter.le.

Jenny S. Lee (Jane Krakowski/Others) – Lyric Stage: Debut. Mass Coalition for Suicide Prevention: Stir Frying Mahjong (Winnie). TC Squared: Concrete Dreams (Tala). Asian American Playwrights Collective: Troublemaker (May Yu) and Takeover (Pansy). The Huntington: The Heart Sellers (Assistant Director). Fresh Ink: John Deserves to Die (Assistant Director). Jenny is a Boston College graduate, the Associate Producer at Boston's Asian American theatre company, CHUANG Stage, and a member of Company One's current Volt Lab cohort. Special thanks to Regine Vital, Alison Yueming Qu, and Sarah Lee for all their support!

Mei MacQuarrie (Leah Anne Cho/Others) – Lyric Stage: Debut. Fresh Ink Theatre: Mad Dash (Lily). TC Squared: New Play Festival (Bree, Molly). National Women's Theatre Festival: Primary Colors (Mina), High School Coven (Liana). UMass Amherst: Baltimore (Grace), Visionary Futures (Noe, Jill/The Nice One). Film: Heading Home. Mei is a Chinese adoptee raised in Massachusetts who earned her BS in Biology and minors in Theater and Violin Performance from UMass Amherst. Many thanks to Lyric Stage for the opportunity, all of her teachers, and to her family and friends for their love and support (and all the time spent running lines and filming auditions). Instagram: @mei_mac 

* Member of Actors' Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States
** Represented by United Scenic Artists, Local USA 829 of the IATSE
° Stage Directors and Choreographers Society

Five Dollar Fridays

On Friday, May 31, Lyric Stage offers Five Dollar Friday which makes tickets affordable for all for $5 each. There will be a limited number of $5 tickets available for sale with code YELLOW5. Five Dollar Fridays are possible through the generous support of Jan and Stuart Rose

“Lyric for All” Affordable Price Options

In an effort to integrate live theater into the lives of all residents of Greater Boston, Lyric Stage offers multiple options including $30 Under 35, advanced Student Tickets, Senior Tickets, and partnerships with MassWIC and EBT Cardholders that allow audiences to visit as often as they like. More information at: https://www.lyricstage.com/tickets/lyric-for-all/


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