This is my third reread of 2023.
David Henry Hwang
Reread, Theatre, Queer, Racism, Romance
Based on a true story that stunned the world, and inspired by Giacomo Puccini’s opera Madama Butterfly, M. Butterfly was an immediate sensation when it premiered in 1988. It opens in the cramped prison cell where diplomat Rene Gallimard is being held captive by the French government–and by his own illusions. He recalls a time when Song Liling, the beautiful Chinese diva, touched him with a love as vivid, as seductive–and as elusive–as a butterfly.
How could he have known that his true love was, in fact, a spy for the Chinese government–and a man disguised as a woman? The diplomat relives the twenty-year affair from the temptation to the seduction, from its consummation to the scandal that ultimately consumed them both.
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.
15 mar 2023
6 apr 2023
I read M Butterfly for an American Literature class in 2017.
It was interesting to look back at my shy, tentative annotations and realize how little I truly understood. Back then, I had a lot of reflections left to make on gender identity & gender roles. I also failed to realize how much internalized was racism left to unlearn (from my own family, but also from the public school system…)
I wrote an essay on this play, but it embarrasses me to read it back. I wish I could start over and hand professor Brown a better version, 6 years late. I always wondered how I never got above a “B” in his class, but now I understand better.
This time, I annotated with a different colour so I could have conversations with my younger self in the margin.
Last time I read this book I tried & struggled to understand Gallimard & Pinkerton’s perspective. I was annoyed/angry at their words.
This time, those two bored me.
It was Song who demanded my attention & captivated my read through. I had so many question about her cultural & gender identity, about her performance/mask & her true feelings. I can’t come to a satisfactory conclusion, but I love that uncertainty. Ambiguity is good sometimes.
Find this author & book
Leave a Reply