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    January 30, 2018
    David Henry Hwang to speak at USAO's Emerson-Wier Liberal Arts Symposium
    By Zachary McGrew USAO News Bureau

    Tony Award-winning Chinese-American playwright David Henry Hwang will deliver the keynote address in the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma’s 12th annual Emerson-Wier Liberal Arts Symposium. The public is encouraged to attend his free presentation at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 1 in Te Ata Memorial Auditorium.

    Hwang is best known as the author of “M. Butterfly,” which is loosely based on the relationship between a French diplomat and a Peking opera singer. The play premiered in 1988 and went on to win a Tony Award, Drama Desk Award, John Gassner Award and Outer Critics Circle Award as well as being a finalist for the Pultizer Prize in Drama. It was adapted into a film starring Jeremy Irons in 1993.

    “Bringing Mr. Hwang to campus is a marvelous opportunity for our students and community to learn from one of the most renowned writers of our day,” said James Finck, associate professor of American history and symposium coordinator. “His works go to the heart of what is means to be an American: how culture and ethnicity inform how you see the world, how to form meaningful relationships with people very different from you, how to maintain your personal identity in the face of disapproval.”

    Born in Los Angeles in 1957, Hwang studied at Stanford and Yale before embarking on a career as a playwright in New York City. His first works examined the roles of Asian Americans in modern Western society, dissecting the struggles of maintaining an identity in a foreign land. After his breakout success, “M. Butterfly,” Hwang went on to collaborate with composer Philip Glass and work on a radical revision of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical “Flower Drum Song,” among many other projects.

    In 1994, President Bill Clinton appointed Hwang to the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, and he served in this capacity until 2001. In 2012, he received the Steinberg Award for playwriting, which is the largest monetary prize in American theater. Hwang is currently the chair of the American Theatre Wing, the New York City-based organization dedicated to supporting excellence and education in theatre that created and sponsored the Tony Awards.

    USAO’s Emerson-Wier Liberal Arts Symposium series is sponsored annually by the USAO Foundation and was inspired by endowment funds created by Oklahoma College for Women alumni Gladys Anderson Emerson and Nance Foules Wier.

    For more information contact Finck at (405) 574-1229 or

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