(Syracuse, NY)—Chinglish is Tony Award-Winning playwright David Henry Hwang’s hilarious new comedy about the misadventures of miscommunication. It tells the story of an American businessman, Daniel Cavanaugh, who travels to a bustling Chinese province looking to score a lucrative contract in properly translated signs. But the deal isn’t the only thing lost in translation as he tangles with a government official, a bumbling consultant, and a surprisingly sexy bureaucrat along the way. Time magazine named Chinglish one of the best plays of 2011, and the New York Post called it “a comedy gold mine!”
Chinglish performs February 26–March 16 in the Archbold Theatre at the Syracuse Stage/Drama Complex. It is recommended for mature audiences. Tickets can be purchased online at www.SyracuseStage.org, by phone at 315-443-3275, or in person at the Syracuse Stage Box Office at 820 East Genesee Street. Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more at 315-443-9844.
Pre-and post-show events during the run of Chinglish include the Opening Night Party on February 28 with live music by Merit (www.gomeritgo.com), Wednesday @ 1 Lecture on March 5 (“Facing East: The Theatre of David Henry Hwang” with Christian DuComb, assistant professor of English and Theatre at Colgate University), Happy Hour on March 6 (with half price drinks and complimentary snacks), an Actor Talkback following the 7 p.m. show on March 9, and Prologues (moderated discussions with actors) on March 2, March 8, and March 13. Visit Syracuse Stage Events for more information.
Playwright David Henry Hwang drew inspiration for Chinglish from the common miscommunications he experienced while on business trips to China. On one trip in 2005, he visited a brand-new cultural center where everything was gorgeous – except for the badly translated, “Chinglish”-y signs. “For instance, the designation on the handicapped restrooms that read, ‘Deformed Man’s Toilet.’ I started to think about using those signs as a jumping-off point for a play about doing business in China today, one that would deal with the issue of language. I’d never seen a play deal with this.”
Nearly half of Chinglish is in Mandarin Chinese that is translated with over 750 surtitle slides, letting audience members in on humor that stems from miscommunication between the plays’ characters. Almost all of the actors in Chinglish are required to speak fluent Mandarin Chinese. Three translators and a cultural consultant assisted the cast and creative team.
Chinglish debuted on Broadway in 2011 at the Longacre Theatre after a successful run at the Goodman Theatre where it earned Hwang the coveted Jeff Award in the New York category. “Chinglish explores the different levels on which people and cultures misunderstand each other,” Hwang says. “The most superficial of these is language. Going deeper, we encounter differing cultural assumptions and preconceptions. Beneath this, even when two people speak the same language, they often misunderstand each other, particularly in the arena of romance. In the play, two people discover they hold very different assumptions about the importance of love and the role of marriage in life.”
Hwang earned a Tony Award in 1998 and was a 1989 Pulitzer Finalist for his most famous play M. Butterfly. He was also awarded a Tony nomination in 1998 and OBIE Award for Golden Child, as well as another Obie Award and was a 2008 Pulitzer Finalist for Yellow Face. Hwang’s FOB earned him another Obie Award in 1981, and The Dance and the Railroad won a Drama Desk nomination in 1982.
May Adrales, director of Chinglish at Syracuse Stage, recently directed Hwang’s The Dance and the Railroad at NYC’s Signature Theatre Company followed by a run at the Wuzhen International Theatre Festival in China.
Chinglish is made possible with generous support from: The Dorothy and Marshall M. Reisman Foundation (Presenting Sponsor); WAER (Media Sponsor); and Syracuse Media Group (Season Sponsor). Chinglish is co-produced with Portland Center Stage in Portland, OR.