PCS Blog

Dmae Roberts on “Chinglish”

Posted by Alice Hodge | 16 January 2014


In case you missed it, Portland media artist Dmae Roberts has been doing some amazing reporting surrounding our production of Chinglish. Here's a quick recap of all her incredible work. 


Interview with playwright David Henry Hwang

 David Henry Hwang on Language, Race and Culture

On Chinglish:

“Even when you speak the same language,” Hwang says, “particularly when you get into love, get into business it’s very easy to misunderstand each other and in some sense none of us speak the language perfectly.”

On Writing From A Cultural Perspective:

“You know one’s fore-bearers can be in this country for several generations,” says Hwang “and people still say ‘oh you speak really good English.’ Back in the ‘80s we really didn’t want to be associated with the root culture. Things have changed a lot in the last 30 years, and my sense of the zeitgeist of the Asian-American community right now is that multiculturalism has been overtaken by an idea sometimes called trans-culturalism, which is this notion that we can acknowledge all the differences that make us who we are.”

On Activism in Theatre

“I think in any other industry we would have to consider that a pretty appalling record, and it’s not good business anyway,” says Hwang. “That means that theatre is increasingly catering to and drawing from a segment of the population that is continually shrinking. So the American theatre is becoming more and more like the American Republican Party.”

Read the full interview in OR Arts Watch or listen to the podcast of this interview.


Interview with Chinglish director and cast.


From left to right: director May Adrales, Peter O'Connor and Tina Chilip.

Hear Chinglish director May Adrales and cast memebers Tina Chilip and Peter O'Connor discuss what's like to work on a bilingual Chinese/English play,  the cultural and language differences permeating this comedy and a live exerpt from the show. 

Listen or download the full story HERE

Shop Talk

Dmae Roberts moderated a live interview via Skype with playwright David Henry Hwang as part of our Shop Talk series on Tuesday, January 21. 

Here are some highlights via twitter of that interview:

Why Chinglish is Important

In an editorial for the Asian Reporter, Dmae discusses Chinglish and why it's important for Portland. 

Let’s face it, not many Asians attend theatre. Part of the reason might be there are rarely any plays that feature Asian Americans or Asian content. Not many films or television shows do either. Yet there is a plethora of plays written by Asian Americans across the country — plays that will likely never be staged in Portland. Most of these works document different times in history encompassing a multitude of Asian ethnicities across the country.

Read the full story HERE.

The Dance and the Railroad

January 27: A staged reading of David Henry Hwang's The Dance and the Railroad directed by Dmae Roberts in the Julie Vigeland Rehearsal Hall at 7 p.m. This event is free and open to the public. Seating is first-come, first-served. 



Dmae Roberts is a two-time Peabody award-winning independent radio artist and writer who has written and produced more than 400 audio art pieces and documentaries for NPR and PRI programs.  Her work is often autobiographical or about cross-cultural peoples and is informed by her biracial identity. Her Peabody award-winning documentary "Mei Mei, a Daughter's Song" is a harrowing account of her mother's childhood in Taiwan during WWII.  Her most recent project has been Crossing East, the first Asian American history series on public radio which just garnered a Peabody award.   The eight-hour series took three years to produce and ran on more than 230 stations around the country.



Chinglish runs now through February 9. Tickets and more information HERE.

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