I was a student in college when, over the course of a week, David Henry Hwang showed up in most of my classes. He was on campus to workshop an early version of Yellow Face
, through a partnership between my university and The Public Theater. In one dramatic literature class, we read David’s current draft of Yellow Face
and discussed it with him; in another class, David and the workshop actors (several of whom would go on to appear in the world premiere) dropped by to speak about the process of working on an evolving script. It was my first exposure to the world of new play development; after years of studying and approaching plays as immutable, of imagining playwrights’ work as distinct from and prior to – rather than central to – the collaborative process, this was revelatory. It didn’t hurt the play itself tackles issues of creative, personal, ethnic, and national identity in such a nimble, ambitious, and provocative fashion. Yellow Face
is one of those rare plays that actually seems as though it’s in process, constantly evolving and striving for the best version of itself, as it unfolds before the audience’s eyes. It’s smart, cheeky, and arrestingly humble: a seminal piece, both then and now, in my understanding of plays as literature that can be wrestled with in the present moment, rather than dissected from the safe distance of the future.
— Zach Chotzen-Freund, publications associate (former)