Though many of his plays are set in China, or deal with characters of Chinese descent, none of Hwang's stage works has ever been produced on the mainland. "M. Butterfly," his Tony-winning 1988 drama about the affair between a French diplomat and a Chinese spy posing as a woman, is still banned.
The Hong Kong Arts Festival will present the Asia premiere of "Chinglish" for eight performances starting March 1 at the 1,200-seat Lyric Theatre. Tisa Ho, the festival's executive director, said that the organization has received no pressure regarding the play.
"It's an American play, and an American production. It's an American narrative," said Ho on the phone from Hong Kong.
The festival is a prestigious showcase for international groups. This year's edition includes the Chicago Symphony, New York's American Ballet Theatre and the touring revival of "Einstein on the Beach," by Philip Glass and Robert Wilson.
"Chinglish," which features many scenes in Mandarin, is presented in the U.S. with English surtitles that appear within the stage's proscenium. For Hong Kong, where Cantonese is the spoken language, the play will necessitate a second set of surtitles, in Chinese, that will be projected outside the proscenium.
Hwang said the prospect of getting "Chinglish" produced in mainland China any time soon appears remote.
"Until this case falls out of the public memory, I don't think we have a shot," he said. "Maybe we can revisit it in three years."