World Premiere of David Henry Hwang & Jeanine Tesori’s SOFT POWER Set for Ahmanson Theatre, May 3 – June 10, 2018

Center Theatre Group is presenting the world premiere of “Soft Power,” a hilariously provocative new work created by two Tony Award-winning artists, David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori, which will debut at the Ahmanson Theatre. Directed by Leigh Silverman with choreography by Sonya Tayeh, this time and genre-bending piece runs from May 3 through June 10, 2018, with opening night set for May 16.

David Henry Hwang, Leigh Silverman and Sonya Tayeh at the opening night party of KUNG FU at Signature Theatre Company’s Pershing Square Signature Center in New York on February 24, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang
David Henry Hwang, Leigh Silverman and Sonya Tayeh at the opening night party of KUNG FU at Signature Theatre Company’s Pershing Square Signature Center in New York on February 24, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

What begins as a contemporary play jumps 100 years into the future and explodes into a Chinese musical about present-day America, in this seductive new work with book and lyrics by Hwang and music by Tesori. A beloved East-meets-West musical, China’s 21st-century rise and a Presidential candidate’s fundraiser collide to make mayhem- and some beautiful music. This show is inspired by the West’s often ridiculously inauthentic portrayals of Asia, and China’s quest for world cultural influence, also known as “Soft Power.”

Hwang was commissioned by Center Theatre Group to create this work for the 50th Season at the Mark Taper Forum. Tesori is now joining the creative team as “Soft Power” moves into the 2017-2018 season at the Ahmanson.

David Henry Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang
David Henry Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang

Hwang returns to Center Theatre Group where he premiered Pulitzer Prize finalist “Yellow Face” and his Tony-nominated revival of “Flower Drum Song.” Hwang’s other work includes the plays “M. Butterfly,” “Chinglish,” “Kung Fu,” “Golden Child,” “The Dance and the Railroad” and “FOB,” and the Broadway musicals “Aida” (co-author, Ahmanson 2001-2002 season) and Disney’s “Tarzan.” He is also America’s most- produced living opera librettist, and a writer/producer for the Golden Globe-winning television series “The Affair.” Born and raised in Los Angeles, Hwang is a Tony Award winner (“M. Butterfly”) and three-time nominee, a three-time Obie Award winner and a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Recent honors include the 2011 PEN/Laura Pels Award for a Master American Dramatist, the 2012 Inge Award, the 2012 Steinberg Distinguished Playwright “Mimi” Award, a 2014 Doris Duke Artist Award and the 2015 IPSA Distinguished Artist Award. He is Chair of the American Theatre Wing and sits on the boards of Young Playwrights Inc. and the Lark Play Development Center. Hwang was recently the Residency One Playwright at New York’s Signature Theatre, and currently serves as head of playwriting at Columbia University School of the Arts. In 1998, East West Players named its new mainstage The David Henry Hwang Theatre.

Tesori’s Broadway credits include “Fun Home” (2015 Tony Award winner which plays at the Ahmanson February 21 through April 1, 2017), “Violet,” “Caroline, or Change,” “Shrek The Musical,” “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” “Twelfth Night” (Lincoln Center Theater) and John Guare’s “A Free Man of Color.” Tesori also collaborated with Tony Kushner on “Mother Courage” starring Meryl Streep at the Delacorte. Her opera credits include “A Blizzard on Marblehead Neck” (libretto, Tony Kushner; Glimmerglass) and “The Lion, the Unicorn and Me” (libretto, J. D. McClatchy; Washington National Opera). Her songs are featured in the Netflix revival of “Gilmore Girls.” She is the artistic director/co-founder of A Broader Way, an arts empowerment program for girls from underserved communities; the founding artistic director of Encores! Off-Center; and a lecturer in music at Yale University and Columbia University. Tesori is a member of the Dramatists Guild.

Tickets for the Ahmanson Theatre’s 51st season are currently available by season ticket membership only. For information and to charge season tickets by phone, call the Exclusive Season Ticket Hotline at (213) 972-4444. To purchase season memberships online, visit

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an award-winning filmmaker, a Best Actress nominee, a photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and

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