Yellow Face

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For the 2010 film, see Yellow Face (film).
Yellow Face
Written by David Henry Hwang
Characters DHH
Marcus G. Dahlman
Leah Anne Cho
Stuart Ostrow and others
Date premiered December 10, 2007
Place premiered Mark Taper Forum
Original language English
Subject Culture/Race
Genre Drama
Setting New York and California
IOBDB profile

Yellow Face (2007) is a play by David Henry Hwang, featuring the author himself as the protagonist. It premiered in Los Angeles at the Mark Taper Forum in association with East West Players and had its Off-Broadway premiere at the Joseph Papp Public Theater.[1][2] Mixing fact and fiction, Yellow Face is partly autobiographical, with the character Hwang putting on Hwang's play, Face Value. Yellow Face is a satire that raises deep questions of what race really means, how politics and media function in society, what America really stands for, the importance of both fact and fiction, and who we are. Mr. Hwang talks about Yellow Face at this event. [1]

In 2008, it was revealed that Yellow Face gave Hwang his third Obie Award in Playwriting and made him a third-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. In 2013, the play was produced as a two-part YouTube video directed and adapted by Jeff Liu.

In 2013, Yellow Face made its UK Premiere at Park Theatre in Finsbury Park, London on 21 May, produced by Special Relationship Productions and directed by Alex Sims.[3] This production transferred to the Royal National Theatre on 5 May 2014.[4]

The play is currently published by Theatre Communications Group and in an acting edition by Dramatists Play Service, Inc.

Plot summary[edit]

When the musical Miss Saigon transferred from London to New York City, there was a controversy over the casting of Jonathan Pryce, a white British actor, in an Asian role. Although Hwang receives a lot of publicity about his protests against the casting, particularly as the first Asian-American playwright to win a Tony (for M. Butterfly), the production of Miss Saigon continues without changes to the cast. In the play Yellow Face, the character Hwang accidentally casts a white man, Marcus G. Dahlman, as an Asian in one of the leading roles of Face Value. Comedy ensues as Hwang is first convinced and then tries to convince other people that Marcus has Asian ancestry as a Jew from Siberia. Hwang realizes that Marcus has no Asian blood, but by then, Face Value has cost $2 million and Hwang tries to cover up his mistake. Marcus, however, continues playing his role as an Asian in all parts of his life, becoming an activist for Asian rights, angering Hwang who views him as an "ethnic tourist." The play further explores his relationship to his father and that of the Chinese community to America. The father is a successful immigrant who built a large bank in California, and after some political contributions, gets investigated by Sen. Fred Thompson as a Chinese who funnels money from China to influence American politics. The investigations bears resemblance to that of Wen Ho Lee. In the course of this, the protagonist and Marcus get implicated as Chinese collaborators. As Marcus' true identity reveals him as Caucasian, Thompsons's investigation breaks down, but Hwang now has to come clean about Marcus, and about himself.


Original UK Cast, Park Theatre and Royal National Theatre

Actor[3][4] Character(s)[5][6]
Kevin Shen DHH
Ben Starr Marcus G. Dahlman
Christy Meyer The Announcer/Name Withheld on Advice of Counsel
John Schwab Stuart Ostrow/Rocco Palmieri/others
Gemma Chan Leah Anne Cho/others
Davina Perera Jane Krakowski/Miles Newman/others
David Yip HYH/others

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Review by nytheate, 2007
  2. ^ Review by Variety, 2007
  3. ^ a b Park Theatre website:
  4. ^ a b National Theatre website:
  5. ^ Yellow Face programme. London: Park Theatre. 2013. 
  6. ^ Yellow Face programme. London: National Theatre. 2014.