I am almost famous in China, because I have that Broadway cachet.
There is something very unique in American iconography about this notion of the pursuit of happiness.
I think that plays are probably the most personal, because it's just me in charge, but sometimes it's just really - I think that there's honor in being a good artist, and there's honor in being a good 'craftsperson.'
With a musical, you kind of have to do a mind-meld with the book-writer, the lyricist, the composer, the director - sometimes the producer. I think that's a reason why musicals are the hardest form.
Even if you're lucky to have a play on Broadway like 'Chinglish,' you don't necessarily earn enough off it to support the years it takes to get there.
You aren't allowed to ask at auditions, legally, a person's race.
My work has always been controversial within certain segments of the Asian-American community. This is a community that is generally not represented well at all on the stage, in the media, etc. So on those few occasions when something comes along, everybody feels obligated to make sure that it represents his own point of view.
My father has always been interested in discarding the past. He's never much liked China or the whole idea behind China or Chinese ways of thinking. He's always been much more attracted to American ways of thinking. He feels Americans are more open - they tell you what they think - and he's very much that way himself.
My new play 'Chinglish,' which will go to Broadway, is about a white American businessman who goes to a provincial capital in China, hoping to make a deal there. It's bilingual. And it's about trying to communicate across language and cultural barriers.
We all deal with failure. If you're lucky to have a long career, it's part of the experience.
For a long time, it was hard for me to get my work done in Chicago. Silk Road gave me opportunities to do shows like 'Golden Child' - shows that nobody else seemed interested in. And they bring an artistic integrity to the work that matches anything you'll find at a bigger theatre.
There was all this talk when Obama got elected about how we were living in a postracial world. But we're not. Until we get to the point where James Earl Jones can play, say, George Washington, race matters. You wouldn't put a white actor in blackface to play Othello. You shouldn't have a white actor in what amounts to yellowface to play Asian.
There's something about China and its rush to capitalism that I find confusing. At the same time, we live in an America where capitalists oppose any government interference with free markets, while in China you have a very controlled, state-planned market where economic growth is better than ours.
My first plays were amazingly bad, but I had a teacher who thought I had promise, and he kept working with me. I finally went to a summer workshop before my senior year with people like Sam Shepard and Maria Irene Fornes who encouraged me to write from my subconscious, and suddenly all this material about culture clash came out.
If I do a play, it's my vision, and everybody else is working on the production to support that. If I do an opera, I feel like part of my job is to support that composer, to try and create something that allows the composer to do his or her best work. In movies, it's usually the director.
You can't be a playwright without believing there's an audience for adventurous work.
As Asian-Americans, the charge that is often lobbed against us is sort of the least original: the idea that somehow we're perpetual foreigners, that we can't be trusted, and that even my father, who was patriotic to the point that it was kind of a joke among his children, would be accused of being disloyal to America.
With theatre, we all agree to suspend our disbelief about so many things, but not about race. It's totally OK to have one actor playing five roles - people are willing to believe that. But they won't believe it if there's a black or an Asian kid who has white parents. What does that say about us?
I'm interested in internationalism. It's the new multiculturalism. How we deal with each other isn't sufficient any more. It's about time we examine how we interact with the rest of the world we live in.
I now know that to do a worthwhile family history I must interpret the past without falling into either demonizing or unquestioning acceptance. . . . As a playwright, what I object to right now is any form of fundamentalism, whether it's nationalistic, religious or ethnic. . . . I think it is ridiculous - and fundamentalist, by the way - to say that I am not changed by the culture around me.
Tonight, I've finally learned to tell fantasy from reality. And, knowing the difference, I choose fantasy.
Well, there's no guarantee of failure in life like happiness in high school.
Yellow Face marks my summation of multiculturalism.
Chinese culture in general is not very religious. Confucianism is more a code of ethics than a religion, and ancestor worship is a way for parents to control you even after theyre dead.
I knew I was Chinese, but growing up, it never occurred to me that that had any particular implication or that it should differentiate me in any way. I thought it was a minor detail, like having red hair.
I felt pretty good growing up. I didnt feel a lot of prejudice or racism. But I do remember, if there was going to be a movie or a television show with Asian characters, I would go out of my way to avoid them, because they portrayed all Asians as either ridiculously good or ridiculously bad; you know, the whole Charlie Chan-Fu Manchu thing.
I visited a new cultural center in Shanghai in 2005 that was pretty much perfect, except for the really badly translated Chinglish signs: a handicapped restroom that said Deformed Mans Toilet, that kind of thing.
Ive studied Chinese in college, but basically, Im not bilingual.
Death with honor is better than life... life with dishonor.
The West believes the East, deep down, wants to be dominated, because a woman can't think for herself
There's a reason why the form was originally silent
Sometimes I hate you, sometimes I hate myself, but always I miss you
Now I see - we are always most revolted by the things hidden within us.
It's the stories that make my heart beat faster ...those are the ones to write about
I define the American dream as the ability to imagine a way that you want your life to turn out, and have a reasonable hope that you can achieve that.
. . . I felt I was finally in a position to affect not only the artistic content of the American theatre, but also its institutional structures. This has been an important goal of mine, as there have always been a variety of issues - artistic freedom, author's rights, access by minority groups - which have concerned me and even influenced my decision to become a playwright in the first place.
To me to write well is to battle stereotypes. To write well is to create three-dimensional characters that seem human.
I'm happy. Which often looks like crazy.
We are all prisoners of our time and place.
Time flies when you're being stupid.