Yellow Face at Theater J Wednesday, Jan. 29

As the first Asian-American to win a Tony Award for Best Play, David Henry Hwang routinely fields questions from critics and reporters looking for an opinion on Asian issues in theater. When producers of Miss Saigon cast a white British actor in the role of the Engineer, the Eurasian owner of a Saigon nightclub, Hwang spoke out against the choice. But the same criticism fell on Hwang after he mistakenly cast a white actor in an Asian role in his play Face Value, then tried to convince audiences that the actor actually was partly Asian. Critics panned Face Value and it closed in previews, but Hwang used the experience as fuel for Yellow Face. In the play, showing now at Theater J, both Hwang the playwright and Hwang the character realize that fighting to defend their wrong assumptions benefits no one. The play runs Jan. 29 to Feb. 23 at Theater J, 1529 16th St. NW. $15–$65. (202) 518-9400.

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