The Sound of a Voice (October 2015)

MediaRites’ Theatre Diaspora, presents the last play of the 2015 season: The Sound of a Voice by noted playwright, David Henry Hwang (best known for M. Butterfly, which received the 1988 Tony Award for Best Play, and for Chinglish produced at Portland Center Stage). 

Inspired by Japanese folk stories, films and Noh theater, The Sound of a Voice is Hwang’s fifth play and is an original ghost story about loneliness, isolation and human connection between two middle-aged strangers. The play centers on a woman who resides in a desolate area of Japan and a man who stumbles upon her home, seeking refuge for the night as he searches for his missing comrades. They are hungry for human interaction since they are both lonely and isolated, comforted by “the sound of a voice.” But strange things happen as they foster their relationship – attraction, desire, intrigue, desperation and deception.

The Sound of a Voice was originally produced by Joseph Papp at the New York Shakespeare Festival Public Theatre in 1983. The Portland production is directed by Samson Syharath of Theatre Diaspora. The cast comprises Chisao Hata and Larry Toda, also core ensemble members of Theatre Diaspora. Actor Mariko Kajita provides narration. The play features shakuhachi (Japanese flute) music performed by Larry Tyrrell, of Moonbridge music, a master shakuhachi player who performed with the Okayama Hogaku Ensemble and now performs in the Northwest.

MediaRites’ Theatre Diaspora project is Portland’s first Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) theatre, providing staged readings followed by audience talkback discussions on cultural diversity in theatre and our community. The Sound of a Voice will be performed at Portland Center Stage (located at 128 NW Eleventh Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97209) on Saturday, October 17 at 2:00 p.m. and on Sunday, October 25 at 7:00 p.m. Playwright David Henry Hwang will join the audience for a Skype talk at the October 17th 2pm performance. Tickets are $8 each. A financial hardship discount code is available by emailing Tickets can be purchased in advance by clicking the donation button at

About the author:
David Henry Hwang’s work 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 Aida (co-author), Flower Drum Song (2002 revival) and Disney’s Tarzan. He is America’s most-produced living opera librettist, who has worked with composers Philip Glass, Osvaldo Golijov, Bright Sheng, Unsuk Chin, Huang Ruo and Howard Shore. Hwang is a Tony Award winner and three-time nominee, a three-time OBIE Award winner and a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. His screenplays include Possession (co-writer), Golden Gate, and M. Butterfly. He currently works as a writer/producer for the Golden Globe-winning television series The Affair, and is developing an original series, Shanghai, for Lionsgate and Bravo. Hwang won the 2011 PEN/Laura Pels Award, the 2012 Inge Award, the 2012 Steinberg “Mimi” Award, a 2014 Doris Duke Artist Award and the 2015 IPSA Distinguished Artist Award. He attended Stanford University and Yale Drama School; holds honorary degrees from the American Conservatory Theatre, Columbia College, Lehigh University, and USC; and serves as Head of Playwriting at Columbia University School of the Arts. Hwang was recently the Residency One Playwright at New York’s Signature Theatre.

The Sound of a Voice is made possible with funding from the Regional Arts and Culture Council and the Spirit Mountain Community Fund in collaboration with Portland Center Stage.