SigSpace: Trying to Find Chinatown


Tune in for the world premiere virtual screening of David Henry Hwang's short film Trying to Find Chinatown directed by Jeff Liu, an adaptation of Hwang's play of the same title. Followed by a discussion with writer and director, moderated by Dr. Esther Kim Lee (Professor of Theater Studies at Duke University. 

About the Film

Adapted from the play Trying to Find Chinatown, this short film directed by Jeff Liu is an exploration of racial identity and appearance, revolves around the interaction between an Asian street musician and a Caucasian man who claims Asian American heritage.

About the Artists


David Henry Hwang's stage work includes the plays M. Butterfly, Chinglish, Yellow Face, Golden Child, The Dance and the Railroad, and FOB, as well as the Broadway musicals Aida, Flower Drum Song (2002 Revival), and Disney's Tarzan. From 2012 - 2014, he was a Spotlight Playwright at Signature Theatre, which premiered his play Kung Fu.

Called America's most-produced living opera librettist by Opera News, he has written thirteen libretti, including five with composer Philip Glass. Hwang also co-wrote the Gold Record "Solo" with the late pop music icon Prince. His screenplays include M. Butterfly and he is penning the live-action feature musical remake of Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame as well as an Anna May Wong biopic to star actress Gemma Chan. For television, he was a Writer/Consulting Producer for the Golden Globe-winning television series The Affair, and is currently creating two television series, Billion Dollar Whale for Westward/SKG and another for Netflix.

Hwang sits on the board of the American Theatre Wing, where he has served as Chair, and on the Council of the Dramatists Guild.  He is a Tony Award winner and three-time nominee, a Grammy Award winner and two-time nominee, a three-time OBIE Award winner, and a three-time Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. Recent honors include his 2022 induction onto the Lucille Lortel Playwrights Sidewalk, his 2021 election to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and his 2018 induction into the Theatre Hall of Fame. His most recent musical, Soft Power, written with composer Jeanine Tesori, premiered in New York at the Public Theater, where it received four Outer Critics Honors, a Grammy nomination for Best Musical Theatre Album, and was a Finalist for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize.


Jeff Liu is a writer and director for film, theater, and web, currently a Resident Dramaturge for the Ojai Playwrights Conference.  His theatrical productions include the LA premiere of Chinglish by David Henry Hwang (which became the highest-grossing play in the 50-year history of East West Players), as well as the world premieres of The Brothers Paranormal by Prince Gomolvilas, Two Mile Hollow by Leah Nanako Winkler, Mexican Day and The Chinese Massacre (Annotated) by Tom Jacobson, Texas and Solve For X by Judy Soo Hoo, Murderobilia and Terminus Americana (Ovation Award nominee for Best World Premiere) by Matt Pelfrey, and The Golden Hour and Grace Kim and The Spiders From Mars by Philip W. Chung.  He also adapted and directed the Pulitzer nominated play Yellow Face by David Henry Hwang for the YOMYOMF Network on YouTube, where it is still available to watch for free.


Dr. Esther Kim Lee is Professor in the Department of Theater Studies, the International Comparative Studies, and the Director of Asian American & Diaspora Studies at Duke University. She teaches and writes about theatre history, Asian American theatre, Korean diaspora theatre, and globalization and theatre. Dr. Lee received her Ph.D. in Theatre History, Criticism, and Literature at The Ohio State University in 2000 and taught at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 2000 - 2012 and at the University of Maryland from 2013 - 2018.

Dr. Lee is the author of A History of Asian American Theatre, which received the 2007 Award for Outstanding Book given by Association for Theatre in Higher Education, and The Theatre of David Henry Hwang. She is the editor of Seven Contemporary Plays from the Korean Diaspora in the Americas. From 2013 - 2014, she was the Chief Editor of Theatre Survey, the flagship journal of the American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR), and served as ASTR's Vice President for Publications from 2017 to 2019. Her book, Made-Up Asians: Yellowface During the Exclusion Era is forthcoming from University of Michigan Press in Summer 2022.  She has also just published with Bloomsbury a four-volume collection, Modern and Contemporary World Drama: Critical and Primary Sources, which challenges the prevailing Eurocentric reading of modern drama.

Additional Content

The YOMYOMF Network presents Yellow Face by David Henry Hwang:
Click to view Part One
Click to view Part Two

May 23, 2022

“David Henry Hwang is a true original. A native of Los Angeles, born to immigrant parents, he has one foot on each side of a cultural divide. By at once bringing West and East into conflict and unity, this playwright has found the perfect means to dramatize both the pain and humor of the immigrant experience.”

– Frank Rich, New York Times 

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