French spy falls in love with a Chinese opera singer only to discover over twenty years later that she is a man Um yes.However, things do get a little serious than thatkind of M.Butterfly spends a majority of the time focusing on the Western stereotypical perceptions of the far east and how that can have an effect in various levels of society However, Hwang also touches on a number of issues including Asian perceptions of the West and of course gender biases and the stereotypical ideals we try to embrace.Its all hefty subject matter but Hwang never fails to make it entertaining, absurd and, since told from one characters perspective, full of subjective inaccurancies that question if what is being playing out on stage ever really happened the way it did While not an element that is the focus of the play, it only adds to the various levels which this play can be examined. White male privilege will fuck you up There are a couple awkward lines and sometimes it feels like Hwang is being far too obvious with the themes of the play, not letting the audience work them out for themselves, but overall, M Butterfly is a fascinating study of racial and gender stereotypes in an East vs West battle of sorts It s also an interesting puzzle to work out, with both leads providing their subjective view points of events, distorting the truth to show the fantasies they had created It openly embraces its theatricality, which is one of the reasons the movie is so disappointing in my opinion it focused too much on realism which made it feel so awkward The incorporation of the actual opera Madame Butterfly into the play provides an interesting mirror to the characters s situation, although the parallels do veer dangerously close to melodrama in one or two scenes Obviously, the premise is one that may require a real suspense of disbelief for some although it is based on a true story but that feels natural to the play itself Rene has spent so long building up his perfect fantasy, living out Madame Butterfly with his own apparently submissive beautiful Chinese woman, and he s desperate to hold onto it, even in the face of destruction It s a play that would require a strong director and actors to match Highly recommended. Based On A True Story That Stunned The World, M Butterfly Opens In The Cramped Prison Cell Where Diplomat Rene Gallimard Is Being Held Captive By The French Government And By His Own Illusions In The Darkness Of His Cell He Recalls A Time When Desire Seemed To Give Him Wings A Time When Song Liling, The Beautiful Chinese Diva, Touched Him With A Love As Vivid, As Seductive And As Elusive As A ButterflyHow Could He Have Known, Then, That His Ideal Woman Was, In Fact, A Spy For The Chinese Government And A Man Disguised As A Woman In A Series Of Flashbacks, The Diplomat Relives The Twenty Year Affair From The Temptation To The Seduction, From Its Consummation To The Scandal That Ultimately Consumed Them Both But In The End, There Remains Only One Truth Whether Or Not Gallimard S Passion Was A Flight Of Fancy, It Sparked The Most Vigorous Emotions Of His LifeOnly In Real Life Could Love Become So Unreal And Only In Such A Dramatic Tour De Force Do We Learn How A Fantasy Can Become A Man S Mistress As Well As His Jailer M Butterfly Is One Of The Most Compelling, Explosive, And Slyly Humorous Dramas Ever To Light The Broadway Stage, A Work Of Unrivaled Brilliance, Illuminating The Conflict Between Men And Women, The Differences Between East And West, Racial Stereotypes And The Shadows We Cast Around Our Most Cherished Illusions Your telling me he didn t know he was sleeping with a man for 20 years Come on Denial is not a river in Egypt. M Butterfly 0 822 20712 5No doubt you ve heard the story of the man who was married to another man, but claimed to have mistakenly thought that his wife was a woman In this incredible drama, Hwang takes this real life story, often distilled into a joke or a bit of trivia, and creates a compelling drama He refuses easy answers here, noting that the thing people really want to ask is Did he or didn t he know The novelty of the situation shocks us, and we want to hear the details partly to satisfy a vicarious desire, and partly to reassure ourselves that such deception could not happen to us.However, Hwang turns the question aside as meaningless and points out that the underlying deception that of a false lover is one that we ve all seen countless times The gender of the participants is less important than their feelings and motivations Whatever else may have occurred, he argues, a human being was used in a terrible way, and his heart was destroyed in the process Everything else in immaterial Ana Mardoll Song Liling Under the robes, beneath everything, it was always me Tell me you adore me.Rene Gallimard How could you, who understood me so well, make such a mistake You ve shown me your true self, and what I love was the lie, perfect lie, that s been destroyed.Song Liling You never really loved me.Rene Gallimard I m a man who loved a woman created by a man Anything else simply falls short A and I made it to the Guthrie s 2010 production of M Butterfly just one day before it closed, and I m so glad we did I always had the feeling that I didn t need to see the play since I d already seen and liked the 1993 film version with Willem Defoe But as Robert McKee rightly argues, it s a valuable experience to compare plays that have been adapted into films Compared to the film, Hwang s play goes much further to make expansive and even pedantic statements about the Orientalism so effectively encapsulated in the story of Madame Butterfly, the tragic story of beautiful Oriental who falls for a Western man Rene Gallimard You made me see the beauty of the story, of her death It s, it s pure sacrifice He s not worthy of it, but what can she do She loves him so much It s very beautiful.Song Liling Well, yes, to a Westerner.Rene Gallimard I beg your pardon Song Liling It s one of your favorite fantasies, isn t it The submissive Oriental woman and the cruel white man In an example of the expansiveness I mentioned, our protagonist here, the Frenchman Gallimard, has an extra extra marital affair, with a Swedish chick he meets at a party After they have sex, she gets a big scene in which she theorizes that male aggression is all a matter of not being able to settle who has the biggest penis Her monologue is truly funny, though at the same time vaguely reminiscent of conversations from undergraduate classes on war and colonialism Most importantly, it s largely a step outside the central plot of the story, so of course in any movie adaptation it would most likely have to be cut.The play production is also expansive in terms of Hwang s technique of very fast scene changes, characters delivering dialogue in multiple scenes at the same time, and exposition in the play simultaneous to performances of the play within the play, the opera Madame Butterfly In the Guthrie production, scenes from the opera are briefly re enacted on a small stage above the main floor of the Wurtele thrust The effect of the much powerful sounds of the opera scenes, with the players in the drama looking at the opera as we look at them looking at the opera, is a really classic meta moment in a dramatic story, all geared towards revealing the way we each of us take up romantic fantasies through the art we love Madame Butterfly may not be politically correct, but to think kids these days are subbing in television and video games can remind us that opera is not so bad The effect of oh my gosh, we all do that sort of thing is palpable in the play version, at least when it is directed properly The great amount of space commanded by the Wurtele Thrust is no doubt a big help as well As Hwang tells us, this story is much than a condemnation of Orientalism Song Liling is a tragic figure as well, a cynical manipulator of Orientalism who comes up with his own fantasy of inverting the Butterfly role and taking up the role of Pinkerton, the selfish and unfaithful Western lover, with his Armani suit and implication of big penis But Gallimard manages to get back at Liling one last time by denying Liling this final advantage Gallimard sticks truer to operatic tragic figure than Liling expected he only loves an ideal, and realizing the impossibility of the ideal, is committed to destruction So goes what just has to be the flagship example of postcolonial tragic drama Geez, what play beat this one in the 1988 Pulitzer awards Need to see this live Need it It is hard to believe that this play was first performed 31 years ago M Butterfly remains an amazing play I read it years ago together with Edward Said s book, and yet this play s ending still managed to surprise me anew. David Henry Hwang s masterpiece must be heard to be appreciated no mere reading of the script can do it justice Nor can David Cronenburg s film version provide a substitute With all of the political overtones stripped away, the film M Butterfly becomes just another of the freak shows for which Cronenburg is so well known.At its heart, Hwang s original play reveals how the hubris and ignorance of the West and its preference for the comforting lies of Orientalism over a reality too harsh for the West to bear leads to downfall in Rene Gallimand s case, a humiliating political and personal one in the West s case, a humiliating political and military loss in the Vietnam War The parallels are obvious, but in Hwang s hands, so deftly handled that I would recommend the L.A Theatre Works edition to everyone. A play based on a true story about a French diplomat who falls in love with a Chinese actress, only to realize that his exotic butterfly also identifies as male Hwang s story highlights the beginning, middle, and end of Gallimard s descent through Song s seduction and how his appetite for dominance blinds him from the truth in front of his own two eyes Though Gallimard earns little respect in this play, we see how he falls victim to the stereotypes assigned to men and to women, to the East and to the West.I wish I could see this play live The intersectional, transnational quality of M Butterfly always made me evaluate the archetypes associated with gender and culture Gallimard and Song s relationship had so many facets Gallimard s sorrow, Song s manipulation, their desperate and theatrical dialogue, and Other books I read fall into an already solidified genre young adult, romance, action adventure, etc while M Butterfly stands out as an undefinable, uncouth, and unique subset of its own.Overall, recommended to someone who enjoys plays of a dramatic yet sometimes dark, comedic nature M Butterfly integrates sexuality, gender, transnationalism, and , so if any of those topics interest you, I would recommend it.
David Henry Hwang Chinese pinyin Hu ng Zh l n born August 11, 1957 is an American playwright who has risen to prominence as the preeminent Asian American dramatist in the U.S.He was born in Los Angeles, California and was educated at the Yale School of Drama and Stanford University His first play was produced at the Okada House dormitory at Stanford and he briefly studied playwriting
- 100 pages
- M. Butterfly
- David Henry Hwang
- 13 March 2019 David Henry Hwang