Playwright Panel Discussion | Fall 2020
Playwrights Candace Chong Mui Ngam (Hong Kong), Nophand (Thailand), and Camila Villegas (Mexico), in conversation with Columbia University School of the Arts International Play Reading Festival Co-Founder David Henry Hwang, Theatre.
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Candace Chong Mui Ngam (May 35th) is a recipient of the Best Artist Award (Drama) by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council (2010). She was selected as one of Hong Kong’s most “inspirational and influential women” by the South China Morning Post, and she is the winner of six Hong Kong Drama Awards for Best Script. Her latest works include Mila, for which she worked as the librettist (Asia Society Hong Kong Center); Dr. Sun Yat-sen, also as the librettist (Santa Fe Opera House); and the Broadway production of Chinglish, for which she worked as a translator.
Nophand (Taxi Radio) is a Thai citizen who migrated to London at the age of nine. After thirteen years in the city of diversity, he returned to Bangkok to pursue a career in acting. Along the way he discovered a passion for theatre, then writing, then directing, and then he caught full-blown “playwrightism” and became a theatre artist. Thirteen years later, with fifteen productions that mainly reflect upon contemporary issues of the human condition, Nophand continues to explore the art of theatre—introducing Bangkok audiences to site-specific, immersive, and single-audience experiences that echo our collective thought.
Born in 1974, Camila Villegas (Rarámuri Dreams) is a Mexican playwright. After studying economics and living for two years with the Tarahumaras—an indigenous community of Northern Mexico—she redirected her career towards theatre. In 2008, she founded Tepalcate Producciones, an association for female actors, directors, and playwrights that has produced over thirty plays. Villegas writes for young and adult audiences alike. Her most recognized plays are Jacinto y Nicolasa (in English, titled Rarámuri Dreams) and the children’s play is Las arañas cumplen años. Her work has been presented in Portugal, Spain, United States, Chile, and Canada.
David Henry Hwang’s stage works includes the plays M. Butterfly, Chinglish, Yellow Face, Kung Fu, Golden Child, The Dance and the Railroad, and FOB, as well as the Broadway musicals Elton John & Tim Rice’s Aida (co-author), Flower Drum Song (2002 revival) and Disney’s Tarzan. Hwang is a Tony Award winner and three-time nominee, a three-time OBIE Award winner, and a three-time Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He is also the most-produced living American opera librettist, whose works have been honored with two Grammy Awards, co-wrote the Gold Record Solo with the late pop icon Prince, and worked from 2015-2019 as a Writer/Consulting Producer for the Golden Globe-winning television series The Affair. He is currently writing the live-action musical feature film The Hunchback of Notre Dame for Disney Studios and a movie to star actress Gemma Chan. Hwang serves on the Board of the Lark Play Development Center, as Head of Playwriting at Columbia University School of the Arts, and as Chair of the American Theatre Wing, founder of the Tony Awards. M. Butterfly recently returned to Broadway in a revival directed by Julie Taymor, which marked Mr. Hwang’s eighth Broadway production. His newest work, Soft Power, a collaboration with composer Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home), premiered at Los Angeles’ Ahmanson Theatre, where it won six Ovation Awards. Its subsequent run at the Public Theatre in NYC received four Outer Critics Honors, eleven Drama Desk Nominations, and was a Finalist for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in Drama.
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