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A NOTE FROM THE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR By Vincent M. Lancisi, Artistic Director


laywright David Henry Hwang wrote a fascinating love story, filled with mystery, about a man searching for the perfect woman.

The story is a bizarre and intriguing one, based on the true story of a French diplomat who fell in love with a Chinese opera singer and carried on a near twenty-year relationship before discovering that she was a man— and not only a man, but also a spy for the Chinese government. This was the basis for the trial that ensued in 1986 in Paris. The play you are about to witness is fiction. It explores how this love story might have occurred. Hwang writes a riveting tale about Man vs. Woman, East vs. West, and all in a foreign land undergoing a communist revolution. It’s a story about love, perception, gender and race. It’s about our masculine and feminine ideals. Sometimes life is stranger than fiction. On a vacation last May, my wife and I were touring the south of France. My wife asked our tour driver where he was from, and he explained that he was an immigrant from Budapest. She asked the man what brought him to France. He replied that he was a driver for a famous man, who was the subject of a famous movie with Jeremy Irons—called M. Butterfly. “Have you ever heard of it?” he asked. I was astonished. “You mean were the driver for Bernard Boursicot?”


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“Yes,” he said, “You know him?” When I explained to our driver who I was and that I would be directing M. Butterfly here at Everyman in September, he asked if I wanted to speak to Bernard. Naturally, I said yes, which resulted a return trip to France just three weeks later, and an incredible inperson meeting between me, Bernard, and actor Bruce Randolph Nelson—who portrays the French diplomat in the performance you are about to see. This once-in-alifetime opportunity to meet the real life M. Butterfly was nothing short of amazing! Although the play veers from the real story of Bernard Boursicot—the result of a playwright’s creative imagination, exploring themes of love and life—there is a lot that David Henry Hwang got right about the psychological underpinnings of its characters. When he wrote the play, it was years before the Internet, and there was little written about the trial in the American press. Yet, I find the accuracy remarkable. Our adventure in France informed us in many ways about how to approach this play and the role of Rene Gallimard. It was also an unbelievably rare chance to speak to the man himself about his life, his love, and to examine closely the human spirit that embodies this play. I hope you find M. Butterfly as riveting and eye opening as I did in all my research and study of the play, the man, the cultures, the myths, and the power of love in life.


Vincent M. Lancisi, Founding Artistic Director Jonathan K. Waller, Managing Director



Rene Gallimard................................................................BRUCE RANDOLPH NELSON* Song Liling................................................................................................. VICHET CHUM* Marc/Man/Consul Sharpless........................................................... YAEGEL T. WELCH* Renee/Woman at Party/Girl in Magazine................................... KATHARINE ARIYAN Comrade Chin/Suzuki/Shu-Fang...................................................... TUYET THI PHAM* Helga................................................................................................ DEBORAH HAZLETT* M. Toulon/Man/Judge................................................................CHRISTOPHER BLOCH* Dancer/Servant.................................................................................. BRETT MESSIORA* Dancer/Servant................................................................................... MIKA J. NAKANO Lighting Design

Set Design



Sound Design & Composition


Projection Design


Wig Design




Costume Design




Props Master


Stage Manager


Time and Place: The action of the play takes place in a Paris prison in the present, and, in recall, during the decade 1960-70 in Beijing, and from 1966 to 1988 in Paris.

This production will be performed in three acts with two intermissions.

PLEASE TURN OFF ALL CELL PHONES. NO TEXTING. NO EATING IN THE THEATRE. M. Butterfly is presented by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service, Inc., New York. The videotaping or making of electronic or other audio and/or visual recordings of this production or distributing recordings on any medium, including the internet, is strictly prohibited, a violation of the author’s rights and actionable under United States copyright law. *Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States



Playwright David Henry Hwang in the Longacre Theatre in New York. Photo by Lia Chang.

THE PLAYWRIGHT David Henry Hwang


avid Henry Hwang was born in 1957 Los Angeles, California. Hwang’s parents were both born in China, but his mother was raised in the Philippines; the couple met in the United States. David’s father, Henry, became a successful banker after many years of various jobs, and Hwang’s family and heritage continue to be a central influence and inspiration for his works. Hwang’s first play, FOB (Fresh off the Boat), was first produced during his senior year at Stanford University in 1979. Since, he has written librettos in collaboration with many prominent artists, such as Baltimore-born composer Philip Glass, Sir Elton John, and Sir Tim Rice. Hwang has found steady success on Broadway and in regional theatres with adaptations of Flower Drum Song, Aida, and Tarzan, and original plays Chinglish, Golden Child, and Yellow Face. M. Butterfly, Hwang’s most famous play, opened in 1988 at Eugene O’Neill theatre on Broadway, starring John Lithgow as Gallimard and B.D. Wong as Song Liling. This first iteration won the Tony Award for Best Play, the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Broadway Play, the John Gassner Award for Best American Play, and the Drama Desk Award for Best New Play. M. Butterfly was also nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama that year. Hwang adapted the play into a screenplay for a 1993 film version of M. Butterfly, starring Jeremy


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Irons. Soon after this triumph, Hwang penned an open letter to the producers of the musical Miss Saigon, protesting the casting of a white actor in an Asian role, a controversial practice known as yellowface. This act of advocacy brought him to prominence as an activist for actors and artists of Asian descent in Hollywood, as well as the theatre industry.

Playwright David Henry Hwang. Photo by Rick Loomis (Los Angeles Times).

Hwang continues to be a leading playwright in American theatre. He has won fellowships from both the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations. In 2012, Signature Theatre in New York City devoted an entire season to showcasing and developing his new and existing works. In 2015, Hwang survived a random stabbing on the street outside his New York home. He continues to write plays, the most recent of which is a biographical story of Bruce Lee titled, Kung Fu!

In His Words: On Race-Specific Casting: “The fact is, we are not yet a society color-blind enough to provide for equal opportunity in acting roles. It is so difficult for actors of color to find decent roles that it seems immoral to deny them those few which are available.” “My own opinions about race face casting have evolved over the years. Today, I see it as largely an employment, rather than an artistic, issue. On Broadway and in the major New York theatres, roughly 80% of all roles are currently cast with white actors. Social justice concerns aside, this would be a poor diversity statistic in any industry, and a bad business model. As audiences grow more diverse, the theatre continues to draw from an increasingly shrinking, aging portion of the population.”

David Henry Hwang at the Virginia Theatre in New York during the run of his revisal of Rogers and Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song in March, 2003. Photo from The Lia Chang Theater Portfolio at the Library of Congress/AAPI Collection

On the Future of Sino-American Relations: “I heard that between 2016 and 2025 China will be the world’s greatest economy. I think the reality is that getting into a war would be a bad idea for everybody. So we have to accept that we are in a place where the only sensible option is to figure out how we can partner on things and to have mutual respect for each other. Americans are very Ameri-centric and Chinese are very China-centric. It is a challenge to get them to see things from the other person’s point of view, but they are going to have to do it. We can’t destroy them and they can’t destroy us, so we are going to have to figure a way to exist.”

In Their Words Chinglish Director Leigh Silverman on Hwang:

John Lithgow and B.D. Wong in M. Butterfly on Broadway in 1988. Photos by Joan Marcus.

“David writes plays that are unique to him as both insider and outsider in this country and in China. He lives in an uncomfortable juxtaposition of success and a deep state of anxiety. He’s an incredibly tender person, sensitive, but also tender to the world, which makes him a great writer and a great empath.”

Comprehension: What is “yellowface” and how has David Henry Hwang fought it? Reflection: What societal or political issues might you tackle as a playwright? What kinds of stories would you use to talk about these topics? Playwright David Henry Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang.


THE PLAY The story begins in a Paris prison cell in the late 1980s. Chronicling a period of nearly thirty years, the narrative recounts events in Beijing, China from 1960-1970, and from 1966-1986, in Paris.


A French diplomat is assigned to a duty station in China during the Cultural Revolution. While there, he falls in love with a male opera singer, who has disguised himself as a woman. As their affair unfolds, political and cultural developments ensue, both within and outside of their relationship. The result is deception, manipulation and, ultimately, criminal conviction.


THE CHARACTERS ACTORS PLAYING SINGLE ROLES Bruce Randolph Nelson plays Rene Gallimard who is often referred to succinctly as “Gallimard.” He is a former French diplomat who narrates the story of his affair with Song Liling from a Paris prison, where he is serving a sentence for treason. His reflection on the story details a notoriously tentative and awkward Gallimard, who, with his wife Helga, is sent to Beijing, China during the Revolution.


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Vichet Chum plays Song Lilling, a male, sexually ambiguous Chinese opera singer, who disguises himself as a woman to gain the trust of Rene Gallimard, thereby forging a romantic relationship. Also a member of the Chinese Communist Party, Song must demonstrate allegiance to and compliance with his country, further motivating his manipulation and deception of Gallimard.

Deborah Hazlett plays Helga, Rene Gallimard’s wife. The daughter of a diplomat, Helga serves as a professional connection for Gallimard, whose career advances as a result of their union.


Yaegel T. Welch plays...

Renee, a Danish college student, studying in China, who engages in an affair with Rene Gallimard.

Marc, an old friend of Gallimard’s who is shamelessly lewd and engages in extramarital affairs, repeatedly encouraging Gallimard to emulate his attitudes and actions.

Woman at party, a Parisian woman attending a soiree during the late 1980s. Her commentary is used to illustrate for us how society views Gallimard once his story is made public. Girl in magazine, a dramatized representation of a woman, brought to life, who Gallimard saw in a magazine as a pre-teen.

Christopher Bloch plays... M. Toulon, Gaillimard’s direct superior at the French Embassy in China. He is the French Ambassador to China. Man #1, a Parisian partygoer whose interaction with Woman at Party demonstrates a specific attitude that the public has taken toward Gallimard’s story. Judge, the man who oversees Gallimard’s trial in France.

Brett Messiora plays a dancer/servant.

Man #2, the third member of the Parisian party conversation that we overhear in the beginning of the play. He poses a different perspective than the others, though cumulatively adds to the general sentiment felt toward Gallimard. Consul Sharpless, a character in Madame Butterfly: an American who is present to witness the marriage between “Butterfly” and Pinkerton.

Tuyet Thi Pham plays... Comrade Chin, a stern woman, who is a member of the Communist Party in China and the Red Guards. She provides the listening ear for Song’s espionage, and often provides directives for how Song should move forward. Suzuki, a quippy servant in the reenactment of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly. Shu-Fang, Song’s servant.

Mika J. Nakano plays a dancer/servant.


TIMELINE 18991901

MAY 4,



The Boxer Rebellion “Boxers,” or members of the secret society of the Righteous and Harmonious Fists, unite with the Qing Dynasty government to expel all foreigners from China. Russia, Japan, Britain, the US, and France combine forces to overpower the Chinese and demand reparations in the Boxer Protocol. The Boxer Rebellion marked the end of 3,000 years of dynastic rule and the beginning of a period of unrest and warlordism during the unstable Chinese Republic.

The May Fourth Movement Students protest against the transferral of German claims in China to Japan, following the Treaty of Versailles, leading to denouncements of traditional Confucianism, a turn towards Marxist socialist ideas, and the births of both the Nationalist and Communist Parties. Students of Beijing Normal University who were arrested by the government at the May Fourth Movement.

OCT 1,


Mao Zedong Rises to Power Mao Zedong, who emerged as Chinese Communist Party leader in 1935, founds the People’s Republic of China after decades of civil war with the Nationalist Party. Mao’s rise to power forever changes Chinese culture and government. Mao Zedong propaganda poster



The Reign of a Hundred Flowers The Chinese government relaxes censorship of intellectuals for a brief period before violently shutting down criticisms and punishing dissenters.

Mao Zedong in 1966


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The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution Mao begins The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution to urge the “purification” of the Communist Party and reassert his dominance in China. The student-led Red Guard and government officials lead the forcible destruction of the “Four Olds” old ideas (old customs, old habits, and old culture), and foreigners are forced to flee the country. The Cultural Revolution ends when Chairman Mao dies in 1976, and those closest to him are blamed for the decade of chaos.


The Vietnam War The Vietnam War peaks as American forces in Vietnam number 543,482, with 16,899 killed in 1968. By the end of the war, in 1975, there would be 58,318 Americans and 2,115,000 North and South Vietnamese soldiers and civilians killed in action.


Hovering U.S. Army helicopters covering South Vietnamese ground troops.

China’s Open-Door Policy China’s new Open-Door Policy leads to the development of private sector business and market economy with foreign investment attracted by Special Economic Zones. The US had enacted an open-door policy in China nearly 100 years earlier, before the Boxer Rebellion. Drawing depicting the proponents of the Open Door Policy


The People’s Republic of China The People’s Republic of China establishes diplomatic relations with the United States, continuing on the goodwill furthered by President Richard Nixon’s visit to China in 1972. The People’s Republic and the US had been on opposite sides of the Korean War (1950-1953) and the Vietnam War (1955-1975) with China backing the northern, Communist governments, and the United States supporting the southern, Democratic ones.


Bernard Boursicot at his home in France in June 2017.




hrough a series of rather incredible and serendipitous events that began with a summer vacation to the South of France and a chance meeting with a friendly tour guide, Everyman’s Artistic Director, Vincent (Vinny) M. Lancisi had the opportunity in late June to meet Bernard Boursicot, the real-life man who inspired the character of Rene Gallimard in M. Butterfly. Joining Vinny for this once-in-a-lifetime trip to France was Bruce Randolph Nelson (the Resident Company Member who portrays Gallimard), Kiirstn Pagan (our staff video producer and graphic designer) and me— an Everyman administration staff member of over 11 years, who documented the event as it unfolded. We met with the 73-year old Bernard at his home, which is in a nursing home facility located just outside of Rennes, France (about two hours from Paris). His living area was a small room with no personal effects— only a hospital-style bed, a chair and a small bathroom. For about two hours, Bernard entertained the group with stories and jokes, answering questions about his life, travels and experiences in China. Bruce and Vinny sometimes asked specific questions about his relationship with Shi Pei Pu (the real-life Song Liling) which revealed little—although he jokingly referred to Shi Pei Pu as “His Majesty.” Bernard told the group when he first met Shi Pei Pu, it was under the guise of learning Chinese. The two would go out to lunch every Sunday after Bernard went to church. EVERYMAN THEATRE | 10

Later in the conversation, he told us that nothing surprised him about Shi Pei Pu. “Everyone has a story,” Bernard shrugged. When asked about Shi Pei Pu’s son (who, it was falsely alleged, Bernard fathered), Bernard said the two had met but did not have a relationship. Bernard revealed that the son’s wife came to him once, years ago, and asked if he wanted to be a grandfather to their children—an offer he declined. In the midst of sharing his stories with us, Bernard showed us pictures from his many travels from a tattered photo album, before pausing to present Bruce and Vinny with a pair of neckties embroidered with Chinese patterns—one with pandas, one with masks. It was a kind and heartfelt gesture that appeared almost ceremonious—as though Bernard was bringing Bruce and Vinny into his family or tribe. We broke for lunch around noon. Bernard brought the group outside to another building where the dining hall area was located. Inside was a small, private room that had been carefully set for Bernard to host his guests. Ever the host, it was evident that he wanted us to feel comfortable and well-fed—a satisfied and attentive audience to listen as Bernard joyfully held court. Bernard continued to recount stories, memories and photographs throughout our lunchtime meal. He told of his interview with Barbara Walters, his relationship with biographer Joyce Wadler, and what it was like for him to see the play and movie, M. Butterfly. Bernard said that he was “surprised, but not surprised” by seeing his

life on the stage and on screen. However, he made it clear that his life and Rene Gallimard’s story are two separate things. “It is just a story,” he said. Bernard told us about some his favorite movies—epic tales of romance and travel, including Gone With The Wind, Lawrence of Arabia (which he first saw right before a trip to Arabia) and Doctor Zhiavgo, (which he claims he has seen over 15 times). Towards the end of the conversation, Vinny asked Bernard, “Are you happy?” Bernard smiled, and answered, “About 75%.” He then talked about his suicide attempt­—the details of which differ from what the play depicts. He explained that he had been taking many medications at the time, without which he would become delirious—at one point going so far as to cut himself and write on the cell walls in blood. We observed a faint scar on the side of Bernard’s neck.

Vincent M. Lancisi and wife, Robin Vascoy on vacation in France.

Eight years ago, Bernard suffered a stroke. The incident brought him to the assisted living facility where he lives today. He continues to travel, including trips to Paris every couple of months—however, this rest home is the longest he has ever lived in one place. Throughout the five or so hours spent with Bernard, Bruce sat dutifully, facing his subject as Bernard spoke—as if noting his gestures, mannerisms and speech patterns to let the real man soak over him before preparing to play Rene Gallimard.

L to R: Laura Weiss and Vincent M. Lancisi read through M. Butterfly script on trip from the U.S. to France.

After snapping some photos and exchanging farewells, the Everyman team returned to Paris on a late afternoon train, minds swirling with what we had just witnessed—what an unbelievable experience, meeting the subject who inspired the play we were about to produce. At dinner that night, I asked Vinny if he ever dreamed that he would be on a European research trip to prepare for a show at Everyman. He laughed heartily, “No!” This experience has enriched our appreciation and understanding of M. Butterfly more deeply that we could have ever imagined. Subtle acting choices have been made and important conversations have been discussed between Bruce and Vinny during the rehearsal process that have led to a richer, fuller and more authentic performance than we could have ever anticipated. The privilege of meeting Bernard has brought Everyman’s quest to find truth and authenticity in performance to an unbelievable new height.

L to R: Bruce Randolph Nelson, Bernard Boursicot, and Vincent M. Lancisi at Boursicot’s home in France. Nelson and Lancisi pose with Asian-themed neckties— gifts from Boursicot.

COMPREHENSION: In what ways do you imagine that meeting the real life inspiration has impacted the actor’s experience of playing this role and the director’s approach? REFLECTION: What questions that might not have answered here would you have for Bernard if you were able to meet him yourself?


L to R: Shi Peipu and Bernard Boursicot while on trial in 1986.

FRANCE JAILS TWO IN ODD CASE OF ESPIONAGE By Richard Bernstein, New York Times (May 11, 1986)


former French diplomat and a Chinese opera singer have been sentenced to six years in jail for spying for China after a two-day trial that traced a story of clandestine love and mistaken sexual identity. A member of the French counterespionage service said at the trial, which ended Tuesday, that the operation to collect information on France was carried out by a Chinese Communist Party intelligence unit that no longer exists.

There he met Mr. Shi, a celebrated singer at the Peking Opera, where female roles have, according to tradition, often been played by men. Mr. Shi was a well-known cultural figure in Peking and one of the few individuals allowed by the Chinese authorities to have contacts with foreigners. [The two] met at an Embassy Reception.

The Chinese Government has denied any involvement in the case. The case has been the talk of Paris lately, not so much because of the charge of spying itself as because of the circumstances. The case centered on a love affair between a young French diplomat, Bernard Boursicot, now 41 years old, who was stationed in Peking two decades ago, and a popular Chinese opera singer, Shi Peipu, 46. Mr. Boursicot was accused of passing information to China after he fell in love with Mr. Shi, whom he believed for 20 years to be a woman. Testimony in the trial indicated that the affair began in 1964 when Mr. Boursicot, then 20 years old, was posted at the French Embassy in Peking as an accountant.


Bernard Boursicot before his arrest in 1983.

According to testimony, Mr. Shi told Mr. Boursicot at a reception in the French Embassy in Peking that he was actually a woman.

A love affair between the two ensued to the point where, after several months, Mr. Shi told Mr. Boursicot that he was pregnant; later he announced to the apparently credulous Mr. Boursicot that he had had a son, Shi Dudu, that the diplomat had fathered. Asked by the trial judge how he could have been so completely taken in, Mr. Boursicot said: ‘’I was shattered to learn that he is a man, but my conviction remains unshakable that for me at that time he was really a woman and was the first love of my life. And then, there was the child that I saw, Shi Dudu. He looked like me.’’ Further explaining his sexual misidentification of Mr. Shi, Mr. Boursicot said their meetings had been hasty affairs that always took place in the dark. ‘’He was very shy,’’ Mr. Boursicot said. ‘’I thought it was a Chinese custom.’’ Mr. Boursicot’s espionage activities began in 1969, when he returned to Peking after a three-year absence. By then, China was at the height of the Cultural Revolution, and it was virtually impossible for foreigners to have personal relations with Chinese citizens. Mr. Boursicot testified that a member of the Chinese secret service, whom he said he knew only as ‘’Kang,’’ approached him and said he could continue to see Mr. Shi if he provided intelligence information from the French Embassy. Mr. Boursicot apparently believed that if he refused to comply, Mr. Shi would be persecuted. Mr. Boursicot was accused of having turned over some 150 documents to Shi Pei Pu, who passed them on to ‘’Kang.’’ Mr. Boursicot said at the trial that the materials were generally not sensitive and were publicly available. Later, from 1977 to 1979, Mr. Boursicot was posted at the French Embassy in Ulan Bator in Mongolia, where one of his duties was to make a weekly trip to Peking with the diplomatic pouch. He said he made photocopies of the documents in the diplomatic pouch and turned them over to Mr. Shi. The case was uncovered in 1983 when Mr. Shi, accompanied by his putative son, Shi Dudu, was allowed to leave China. He lived in Paris with Mr. Boursicot, who said he continued to believe that Mr. Shi was a woman. The arrival of a Chinese citizen in the home of a former French diplomat attracted the attention of the French counterespionage service. When the French police questioned Mr. Boursicot about his relations with Mr. Shi, he disclosed his spying activities.

Shi Pei Pu as a mandarin in The Spring Lounge, Beijing, 1962.

Bernard Boursicot while on trial in 1986.

COMPREHENSION: How long were Mr. Boursicot and Mr. Shi in a relationship before Mr. Shi’s identity was revealed? REFLECTION: In the story that inspired the play, and in the script itself, the relationship ended when Mr. Boursicot learned that Mr. Shi had deceived him. Discuss what elements of the relationship might have been genuine, in spite of the disguise and espionage.


THE USE OF SYMBOLISM IN THEATRE By Abigail Cady, Everyman Theatre Education Apprentice


hat is symbolism? Symbolism is the representation of one thing for another using a person, object, or idea. Here is how symbolism of the butterfly in the opera Madama Butterfly and the play M. Butterfly. “I determined to try an experiment. In Madame Butterfly, Cio-Cio-San fears that the Western man who catches a butterfly will pierce its heart with a needle, then leave it to perish. I began to wonder: had I too, caught a butterfly who would writhe on a needle?” M. Butterfly Act I sc. 11 M. Butterfly is one of the most recent additions to a long, fraught series of retellings of the “Butterfly” tale. Following the opening of trade between Japan and the Western World in 1853, consumers in Europe and the United States became fascinated by Oriental objects and aesthetics. Stereotyped images, clothing, and stories were all the rage—particularly the idea of the Asian woman as a butterfly. This image partly came out of the common instances of Western sailors taking “temporary wives” for the time they were away from home, then abandoning the women they had “married”. The transformation, delicacy, ephemerality, and beauty of the butterfly was conflated with the notion that Asian women were exotic, submissive, and willing to bend themselves to a man’s will. It is this stereotype that has been adapted again and again as a tragic story of unrequited love. The first of these “Butterfly” stories is the 1887 semiautobiographical novel Madam Chrysantheme by Pierre Loti, which spurred a short story by American


Lawyer John Luther Long published in 1898, which was then adapted into a play by David Belasco. Composer Giacomo Puccini saw this play in London in 1900 and was inspired to write the opera Madama Butterfly, which premiered in 1904 and is currently the most-performed opera in the United States. In the late 1980s, almost exactly 100 years since the publication of Madam Chrysantheme, two theatrical versions of the Butterfly story were produced. The first was David Henry Hwang’s M. Butterfly, which turned the now typical power dynamic of the Western man and Eastern woman on its head. The second was Miss Saigon, which transferred the setting of the tale to the Vietnam War with Vietnamese and American characters but kept the basic plot the same. The 1989 original production of Miss Saigon was controversial in its casting of a white actor in a Eurasian character’s role and the recent Broadway revival has also been heavily criticized. The persistence of the butterfly story reveals much about the sexism and racism still present in Western culture as a whole. Debates about the insensitive, historical depictions of Asian people, women in particular, are raised each time Madame Butterfly or Miss Saigon is produced. More and more people are realizing how damaging these inaccurate and offensive ideas are, and fewer people are becoming willing to perpetuate them.

COMPREHENSION: When did the first version of the Butterfly story appear? The most recent? What does the butterfly symbolize or represent? REFLECTION: What other symbolic stereotypes can you identify? How do you see them influencing how people think about groups or individuals?



ow gender roles have evolved in different cultures is largely tied to the core values of those cultures. Having lived in Europe, Asia, North America and South America, this writer has seen the evolution of gender roles across cultures first hand. What dominates gender roles can be linked directly back to the expressed values of the home culture, regardless of official religious or political statements about culture. In Asia, gender roles have evolved as a result of both economic and political factors. The communist party in China, for example, put out the idea that “women hold up half the sky” as a maxim for absolute gender equality. This was a sharp change from past gender role definitions, where women were encouraged to be housebound, domestically-talented and decorative creatures. The effects of this evolution of gender roles has been seen across the region, where women are fully engaged in the economic process and strong female personalities thrive alongside a culture that endorses strong male personalities as well. In North America and Europe, the main representatives of “Western” culture, the official line is that men and women are equal. However, it is clear that gender roles have evolved in a way that undercuts this official line. Women continue to earn 77 cents for each dollar of comparable male salaries in America, while in Europe an obsession with political correctness and equality through mandates and regulation undercuts women’s efforts to achieve based on merits throughout the Eurozone. Add in a uniquely Western opposition to the household help for career women that is widely accepted in Asia and South America, and one finds a gender role for women that includes highly traditional household

responsibilities doubled over with the expectation of career success that is still somehow best only when subservient to a male leader. That Western women come across as [angrier and more] frustrated than their global counterparts should not really be a surprise. In South America, gender roles have evolved through a blend of native Incan and invading Spanish influences with a strong family focus. Women’s status as items of beauty continues to be a major part of women’s roles in society, but women are welcomed in all industries as contributors. Men’s “macho” ideal is a more nuanced gender role than is commonly expressed in the media, with many super-macho’s proving to be sensitive family men who are considerate caregivers without any hesitation about being perceived as un-macho just because they are holding a baby in public. Though chauvinism is a real factor toward women as abstract beings, the strong personalities of South American women make it clear that as individuals, they do not accept gender roles as second class citizens. Gender roles have evolved in different cultures in different ways around the world, but they can be tied back to core values of their societies. In no part of the world are gender roles fixed in place, and the continuing ways that gender roles evolve will be highly interesting to men and women alike.

COMPREHENSION: How did attitudes towards women in China change with the growth of the Communist Party? REFLECTION: How do we see these attitudes reflected in the story of M. Butterfly?


Ruthie Ann Miles in Here Lies Love at the Public Theater, about Imelda Marcos, former first lady of the Philippines. Credit Sara Krulwich/The New York Times.

HERE LIES PROGRESS: ASIAN ACTORS FILL THE PLAYBILL By Patrick Healy, New York Times (June 22, 2014)


fter decades of inching toward center stage, Asian-American theater actors are facing something that they’ve rarely enjoyed in New York: demand. An unusual bonanza of jobs is in the offing from new shows as well as two anticipated Broadway revivals, The King and I and Miss Saigon. More plays and musicals are also telling stories from Asian viewpoints, a long-held goal of Asian-American artists. And increasingly, Asians are landing roles that traditionally go to non-Asian actors. The biggest game-changer is Here Lies Love, one of those rare musicals that become critically acclaimed commercial hits Off Broadway and have an open-ended run. Even more uncommon, it’s all about an Asian character. The subject is Imelda Marcos, the former first lady of the Philippines. With a cast of 17, the show is the first in years to offer the prospect of steady employment to Asian-American actors. Productions of Here Lies Love are also in the works for San Francisco and London this fall, with Los Angeles, Seattle, Denver and Sydney and Melbourne, Australia, under consideration. “Asians are used to being the third actress to the right of the star,” said Ruthie Ann Miles, a Korean-American who spent 10 months in a blond wig on the road in “Annie” before landing the role of Mrs. Marcos. “The


wig,” she added, “was supposed to make me fit in with my two white sisters. Those were the things a lot of us did to get work.” Actors say they are also making steady gains in smaller theaters, landing more roles that they describe as “nontraditional.” In recent months a Japanese-born actor played Romeo opposite a white Juliet at the Classic Stage Company and a Filipino-American actor was Bill Sikes in Oliver! More Asian-Americans have also been creating characters named Heather and Claire who were not written specifically as Asian. “Casting directors are starting to take Asian diversity seriously, after focusing mostly on black and Hispanic actors,” said Pun Bandhu, an actor who was cast as several minor characters in the 2012 Broadway revival of Wit. For the 2014-15 season, at least three new plays written by Asian-Americans will open Off Broadway—including one, Straight White Men, in which the female playwright, Young Jean Lee, is offering her take on white characters. Such new works are rarer on Broadway; while there have been African-American productions of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and A Streetcar Named Desire, there has yet to be an Asian-American Big Daddy or Stanley Kowalski. Yet casting does begin next week for The King and I, which will start performances in March at Lincoln Center Theater and feature about 30 Asian characters. Miss Saigon, which reopened in London last month with Asian-American actors in lead roles, is expected

to return to Broadway during the 2015-16 season; the show has more than a dozen Asian characters and originally ran 10 years on Broadway. But compared to The King and I and Miss Saigon, which have been criticized for recycling some Asian stereotypes, the Filipino-centric story of Here Lies Love represents both an artistic breakthrough and an emotional high point. “For years I’ve mentored Asian actors to prepare themselves for the lack of Asian parts out there,” said Jose Llana, a Filipino-American actor who plays Ferdinand Marcos in Here Lies Love. “Until now my best strategy was auditioning for Hispanic roles as well, because I can look the part,” he added, noting that he played El Gato in the Broadway musical Wonderland. Still, he has slowly started winning roles that traditionally went to white actors. He was cast as Bill Sikes in Oliver! last fall at Paper Mill Playhouse—a decision that surprised him so much that he asked executives if the audience would accept him in the role. (“No one batted an eye,” he recalled.) It was a far cry from his experience in the lead role of Melchior in a Sundance Institute workshop of the musical Spring Awakening in 2000. By the time the show reached Off Broadway and then Broadway in 2006, the role had gone to Jonathan Groff, who is white. Trip Cullman, a director who mostly works Off Broadway, has cast several Asian-American actors, including Sue Jean Kim and Maureen Sebastian, in roles that were not explicitly Asian. “I like it when the casting of a play reflects my experience of the world around me,” said Mr. Cullman, who is white. “Expanding my collaborators’ notions of who could be ‘right for a role’ seems to me to be a moral and political duty.” On Broadway, where producers tend to cast Hollywood names to help sell tickets, Asian-Americans actors are still more likely to be the wise adult or the best friend. In Matilda, Celia Mei Rubin is in the ensemble and understudies the role of Mrs. Phelps, the kindly librarian who has been played so far by black actresses. In another musical, Mamma Mia!, Ashley Park is in the chorus and understudies the character of a best friend, usually played by white actress. Some shows with Asian-related storylines and characters, like recent revivals of Flower Drum Song and Pacific Overtures and David Henry Hwang’s play Chinglish, have struggled to find audiences on Broadway. A new musical, Allegiance, about a JapaneseAmerican family in a World War II internment camp,

starring George Takei and the Tony Award winner Lea Salonga (from the original Miss Saigon), [waited more than] a year…to get an offer from one of Broadway’s theater owners. “You need Lucy Liu to have a hit on Broadway,” said Tisa Chang, who in 1977 founded the Pan Asian Repertory Theater, which significantly expanded opportunities for Asian-American performers. “But ideas like an Asian-American production of an American classic are absolutely workable.”

Jose Llana and Ruthie Ann Miles as Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos in Here Lies Love, which has earned an open-ended run. Credit Sara Krulwich/The New York Times.

If it’s Off Off Broadway, that is. A new Death of a Salesman is running in a 99-seat theater through June 29 starring South Asian actors as the Loman family, including the show’s producer, Saima Huq, as the matriarch Linda. She put up $25,000 from savings and credit cards to mount the show. “There was no way I could ever imagine playing an iconic role like Linda unless I put on the show myself,” she said. But Here Lies Love did not rely on Asian-American creators or producers; most of them are white. “It shows that white and Asian artists can create really great work together,” said Ms. Miles, who was born in Arizona and spent much of her childhood in South Korea. “You get to tell the ultimate story—a person’s whole life story—and that person is a very complicated, very human, stereotype-free Asian who is surrounded by other Asian characters. It’s a dream come true for me.”

COMPREHENSION: In what way is Here Lies Love different from the often criticized Miss Saigon and The King and I? REFLECTION: This article details a timeline of specific Broadway productions in recent years. When seeing a play, we should get in the habit of asking ourselves, “Why this play right now?” Discuss why you think Everyman chose to produce M. Butterfly as its opener for the 2017-2018 season.




Interview with Steve Satta, Dialect Coach

Where are you from originally and when did you first develop an interest in theatre? I was born and raised in New York City—The Bronx, specifically. Both of my parents loved the arts, particularly literature and theater, and took all of us (my brother and sister and I) to plays as often as possible. The play that really hooked me was a college production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, in which my brother played Sebastian. That remains one of my favorite plays of all time. When and why did you decide to pursue theatre professionally? How has your background shaped your career path? I performed in plays all throughout high school, but didn't decide to pursue it as a career until I attended the National High School Institute for Theatre Arts at Northwestern University the summer before my senior year. That was the first time I actually took theatre classes, and it really opened my eyes to the depth and breadth of theater and its importance in and impact on humanity. Define a dialect coach's responsibilities or the scope of your work in relation to bringing a story to life onstage. My responsibilities include training the actors to speak in the dialects or accents of their characters, but can branch out from that considerably depending on the project. How a character speaks gives a lot of information to the audience, such as where they are from and their social status or level of education. But, it can also tell us a lot about who they are as people, how they want the world to see them, and what they aspire to. We all adjust the ways that we speak depending on


the situations we find ourselves in, and I'm there to help the actors discover how their characters speak, and why. Some plays, such as M. Butterfly, require the dialect coach to think about style, as well. Everyone who speaks with the main character in the play would speak in French, but when the two Chinese women are alone speaking together, they would probably speak in Chinese. But, of course, the entire play is in English! In this case, how should it be communicated to the audience that a character is switching languages? Is it even necessary? These are fun puzzles to work out in conjunction with the director and the actors. How do you find work as a vocal/dialect coach? What other types of work outside of theatre do you do? There is no way to “audition” to be a dialect coach. It is one of those things that depends on the reputation and relationships that have been developed within the artistic community. I first worked in this capacity at Everyman because one of my colleagues at Towson University [Everyman Theatre Resident Set Designer Daniel Ettinger] had an established relationship with Everyman. When they needed a dialect coach, he recommended me. Like all artists, a dialect coach builds relationships in the community, and most work comes from becoming “known” and maintaining a solid reputation. Outside of professional theatre work, I am on faculty at Towson University, where I teach voice for the actor, speech, dialects, and acting. I am very lucky. My other passion in life is education and I found a way to bring the two together. What skills are necessary to being in your line of work? Critical thinking is vital. I need to be able to read a play and

make lots of connections that aren't written in the script. The socio-political period in which a play was written, the personal history of the playwright, the trends in theatre at the time— details like these all impact how a play gets on its feet. The dialect coach needs to be able to synthesize all of these things in order to really understand not only how to tell the story to an audience, but what the story is that’s being told. On a more technical note, as a dialect coach, I need to know a lot about the way human beings produce and shape sound. I have to know about the voice itself and how it functions. I have to know about how we use our tongue and teeth and throat to make different speech sounds. I also have to know the International Phonetic Alphabet so that I can notate accurately how a character sounds and the way they would say specific words and phrases. How do you connect to M. Butterfly? Can you illuminate how certain vocal choices are significant to this piece? How might physicality impact or lend the voice in this piece? I remember seeing the original Broadway production with John Lithgow and B.D. Wong, and it was an incredible experience for me as an artist and as a person. I was in college at the time and still figuring out who I was, what kind of artist I wanted to be, and what my values were. The way this play addresses a huge number of social issues simultaneously and elegantly, and with humor, is astounding. It really opened my eyes to the power of the art form. Additionally, the issues being addressed about gender and sexuality were very pertinent to me at the time. The big vocal challenge is, of course, the main character, Song Liling. How does an actor with male physiognomy (men and women tend to have distinct differences in the shape and size of their vocal apparatuses) work to create the illusion they are female? So many gender cues come through the voice. In terms of speech and dialect, again, the style of the play is a fun challenge. Characters are speaking different languages at different times, but the entire script is written in English. And, while it is inspired by a true story, the play is not realistic. So the question begins with, “do we need to find a way to communicate to an audience the different languages that would realistically be spoken?” before we address how to do that. What challenges does this piece present for you? Any fun facts or insider tidbits you can share that you want to draw our patrons' attention to? We spent a lot of time discussing the pronunciation of “Peking.” Vinny was really interested in finding a way to communicate the difference between a Westerner's relationship to China versus a native Chinese person's relationship to it. How would Gallimard's pronunciation be different than Song's?

I discovered in my research that the name of the city was officially changed to “Beijing” in 1949. “Peking” was actually not an accurate transliteration of the Chinese name—it was what Westerners had incorrectly heard. So, in 1966 (when the play takes place), the West was already saying Beijing. The playwright, David Henry Hwang, kept “Peking” (along with the term “Oriental”) in his script in order to highlight how the Western characters may live in China, but not really understand the Chinese culture. So, realistically, Song would say “Beijing”—but that is not how the script is written. Our decision (at the time of this interview—perhaps it could change before opening night) is that Gallimard will pronounce it “PEA-KING,” with equal emphasis on both syllables, but Song will pronounce it “pay-KING,” which uses the real vowel sound in the first syllable and emphasizes the second syllable—much closer to how one would pronounce “Beijing.” This makes Song's pronunciation sound more authentic and Gallimard's sound more culturally ignorant or insensitive, while still working within the parameters set by the playwright. What is the Dialect Coach's relationship to the Director? What other relationships are critical to your work? The dialect coach must be in dialogue with the director and must collaborate in the way I’ve described. Vinny is a terrific collaborator and has a great deal of respect for the integrity of the other artists on a project. Ultimately, however, everything is the director's choice. I have been on projects where a director insisted on a dialect that was not accurate to the time and place of the play, and I could not persuade them otherwise, so I taught the actors to speak that dialect accurately and well—even though I disagreed with the choice. What piece of work are you most proud of? What is a play you would love to work on? From a dialect coaching perspective, the project I am most proud of remains the first play I ever coached: Translations, by Brian Friel, which we produced at Towson. I had to teach two different British dialects, a very specific version of an Irish accent, as well as the proper pronunciations of passages in Gaelic, ancient Greek, and Latin. That took a lot of research and planning. The actors really did their “homework,” and the production sounded terrific. Honestly, I have always loved M. Butterfly and have wanted to work on it. It is a hard show to cast, so it is not done frequently. I feel very lucky that Everyman is producing it so that Baltimore audiences (especially my students!) get to see it, and even luckier to have been invited to contribute. What advice might you give someone interested in pursuing vocal coaching professionally? Go to college and get the training you need. Remember that your reputation is everything: build positive relationships with everyone you meet, even if you may disagree with them.


GLOSSARY Cad: A man who behaves dishonorably, especially towards a woman. Caprice: A sudden or unaccountable change in behavior or mood. Whimsy, foible.

Republic of China (Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo) and the Republic of China (Zhonghua Minguo). Origins of the name are not definite, but it could refer to its central location in the Asian continent and its self-perceived position between heaven and “inferior” civilizations.

Cheongsam: Also called a qipao, a Chinese traditional women’s dress made from cotton or silk and distinguished by its close fit, high collar, and side slits.

Oriental: An outdated term referring to someone or something of East Asian descent or culture, usually in comparison to the West, or the Occident.

Communism: A political and economic theory and system derived from the writings of Karl Marx, based on the elimination of private property and the equal ownership of goods; has historically fallen into authoritarian dictatorships in application.

Peking: An outdated translation for the Chinese city of Beijing from the characters, meaning “north” and “capital”; the capital of the People’s Republic of China.

Comrade: Honorific greeting and title used among members of the Communist Party, indicating companionship within the Party. Consul: A government official living and working in a foreign city to protect their native country’s interests there. “East Meets West”: Refers to the meeting or clash of people, cultures, and customs of Eastern Asia and Europe or North America, notable because of their differences, discrepancies, and misunderstandings. Expatriate: A person who has settled outside of their native country. General Westmoreland: (1914-2005) General William Westmoreland, a veteran of World War II and the Korean War, leader of the United States Military Assistance Command in Vietnam (MACV) in the Vietnam War from 1964-1968. He was known for his “strategy of attrition”, which fatally overlooked the guerilla abilities and nationalist zeal of the North Vietnamese forces. Ho Chi Minh: (1890-1969) Founder of the Indochina Communist Party, the Viet-Minh, and President of The Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) from 19541969. Imperialist: Someone who espouses policies which extend a country’s power and influence through military force and diplomacy, often to the detriment of conquered nations. Indochina: The name used collectively for Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia when they were under French colonial control from 1858-1950. Middle Kingdom: Or Zhongguo, a Chinese name for the country of China, now seen in the names of the People’s


Peking Opera: Also known as Chinese or Beijing Opera, a tradition of sung performance begun in the 1790s. Classic stories are divided “Civil Plays” whose drama centers on relationships and intrigue, and “Martial Plays” that focus on acrobatics and action. Characters are similarly separated into categories of leading men, women, painted face male roles, and male clown roles, with variations on each type and complex makeup, costumes, and singing styles to distinguish them. Proletariat: Working class people; used specifically when referring to the working class as a group in discussions of Communism. Puccini: Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924), an Italian opera composer. His major works include Tosca, La Boheme, Turandot, and Madama Butterfly - all notable for their ill-fated heroines. The Revolution: The replacement of capitalist or feudal government, social, and economic systems with socialist or communist systems brought about by the organization of the proletariat. Viet Cong: Full name Viet Nam Cong San, the guerilla military group that fought against South Vietnam during the Vietnam War (late 1950s-1975), with the support of the North Vietnamese Army and other groups. “Vive la difference!”: French for “celebrate difference”, used most often when commenting on differences between genders. Westerner: Also known as Occidental, someone or something of European or North American descent or culture. Usually used in comparison to the East, or the Orient. Yen: The official monetary unit of Japan Symbolized as ¥. One yen is currently worth 0.0091 dollars.




THEATRE ETIQUETTE When you come and see a play, remember... Respectfully enjoy the show. While we encourage you to laugh when something is funny, gasp if something shocks you, and listen intently to the action occurring, please remember to be respectful of the performers and fellow audience members. Please turn off or silence all electronic devices before the performance begins. There is no texting or checking your cell phone during the show. The glow of a cell phone can and will be seen from stage. Photography inside the theatre is strictly prohibited. Food and drinks are not allowed in the theatre. Food and drinks should be consumed in the Everyman lobby before or after the show, or during intermission.

Be Present. Talking, moving around, checking your phone, or engaging in other activities is distracting to everyone and greatly disrupts the performance’s energy. Stay Safe. Please remain seated and quiet during the performance. Should you need to leave for any reason, re-entrance to the theatre is at the discretion of the house manager. In case of an emergency, please follow the instructions shared by Everyman staff members. Continue the conversation. After your performance, find Everyman Theatre on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and use #BmoreEveryman and #MButterfly to tell us what you thought!

DEEPER DIVE Take a closer examination of the world of M. Butterfly by visiting these resources. More on Racial Equity with Minority Roles... More on the Original Story... More on the Playwright…

More on Gender Norms... More on China’s History...*/ More on Orientalism...

CURRICULAR TIE-INS From the stage to the classroom... COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.11-12.2 Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text. CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.11-12.3 Analyze the impact of the author's choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed). CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.11-12.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11-12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively. EVERYMAN THEATRE | 22

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.11-12.1.C Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that probe reasoning and evidence; ensure a hearing for a full range of positions on a topic or issue; clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions; and promote divergent and creative perspectives. NATIONAL CORE ARTS STANDARDS Anchor Standard #6. Convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work. Anchor Standard #7. Perceive and analyze artistic work. Anchor Standard #8. Interpret intent and meaning in artistic work. Anchor Standard #11. Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural and historical context to deepen understanding.

POST-SHOW DISCUSSION Use these question as a launchpad for conversation... Production • How do costumes influence your understanding of the characters? • How does the set design influence your understanding of the ever-changing time and place in which the story is set? • The play takes place over twenty years. What was done to help you understand/see the passage of time? Was it effective? Why or why not? Theme and Content • How does the story of M. Butterfly compare AND contrast to the story of Madame Butterfly? • What ideas does the play present about women, specifically Oriental women? Are these valid assumptions or not? Explain. • Reflect on a time when you felt confused or out of place in a culture different from your own. What made you feel out of place? Why?

Character • Between Rene and Song, which character is the most believable/ realistic? • Song says that, “Men will believe what they want to hear.” How does Gallimard and/or other men in the play demonstrate this concept? • Much of the play is told from Gallimard’s memory. What kind of character is he? What line or example from the play illustrates his character? • Several references are made about the “perfect woman.” What would you describe as the “perfect woman” in our society? How would Gallimard answer the same question? • Which character do you sympathize/empathize* with most? *To sympathize is to have feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune or agree with a sentiment or opinion. To empathize is to put yourself in the shoes of another. Empathy is the ability to experience the feelings of another person. It goes beyond sympathy.

EXTENTION PROJECTS Find inspiration and become the playwright or the set designer... Be the Playwright: Finding Inspiration The M. Butterfly director and the actor playing the role of Rene Gallimard were able to meet and talk to the person who inspired the play and the role of Gallimard, Bernard Boursicot.

Be the Set Designer: Finding Inspiration Set designers use all sorts of sensory images from a play to find inspiration for the set. The colors, lighting, staging, etc. are all important choices a set designer and director make together.

Now, imagine that you are an actor, playing the role of either Song or Rene. You have been invited to dinner by the real live inspiration for the role (either Shi Pei Pu or Bernard Boursicot) and you get one hour to speak with them.

Now, imagine that your life story is being turned into a play. Think about what setting would make the most sense to tell your life story. Would you choose a room or several in your house? Maybe a classroom in a school building? Be creative!

• •

• • •

Craft 10 questions to ask him or her. Rewrite the opening or closing scene of M. Butterfly. Be sure to include what inspired this change. Write a letter or email to the actual playwright, Henry David Hwang, sharing with him your thoughts, reactions, and recommendations about the play.

Sketch or create a set model for what the stage would look like. Write a one paragraph rationale explaining your artistic choices. Design a one minute presentation or “pitch” to convince a theatre to dramatize your life story using your set.

SOURCES Sources used to currate this Play Guide include... /


DESIGN YOUR OWN PRODUCTION IMAGERY For each production at Everyman, our Marketing Department works with an artist to create imagery that conveys a visual story. What story does the M. Butterfly production artwork (seen on the cover of this guide) convey? Now it’s your turn! Think about the play M. Butterfly and design a new image/artwork to brand the show? Keep in mind, this image could be used on posters, advertisements, billboards, TV, internet, etc.

JOT DOWN YOUR THOUGHTS Use this space to jot down any questions that arise before, during, or after the performance. Bring this with you to the theater, and log your thoughts during intermission or on the bus after the show!

THIS PLAY GUIDE CREATED BY Lisa Langston, Education Program Manager Brenna Horner, Lead Teaching Artist Abigail Cady, Education Apprentice Kiirstn Pagan, Graphic Designer

EVERYMAN THEATRE IS LOCATED AT 315 W. Fayette St. Baltimore, MD 21201

CONTACT INFORMATION Box Office 410.752.2208 Administration 443.615.7055 Email

Everyman Theatre "M. Butterfly" Play Guide  

This Play Guide was created for Everyman Theatre's high school matinee program, which Baltimore City students receive before experiencing t...

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