Five Fun Facts About An American Soldier

1. Librettist David Henry Hwang is one of America’s most renowned playwrights. His list of works is staggering, but he is perhaps best known for M. Butterfly, which opened on Broadway in 1988 and went on to win a Tony Award, Drama Desk Award, John Gassner Award, and the Outer Critics Circle Award. It was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. As you may have guessed, this play is based on Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly, which OTSL just produced in the 2017 Festival Season! The play returns to Broadway this fall in a highly-anticipated revival directed by Julie Taymor (The Lion King) and staring Clive Owen (Children of Men, Gosford Park). It was through his work on M. Butterfly that David became more interested in opera. Since then, he has collaborated frequently with composer Philip Glass, whose chamber opera The Trial received its American premiere at OTSL, also in the 2017 season. It’s all interconnected…


2. Huang Ruo isn’t just the composer of this opera…he is also a conductor and a Chinese folk-rock singer! Huang grew up listening to Chinese folk songs with his family in his native province of Hainan. See Huang perform five of his favorite Chinese folk songs by clicking the button below!


3. Danny Chen, the young man whose story is told by An American Soldier, grew up in Chinatown, New York City. The street his family lived on was once called Elizabeth Street. However, the city renamed it Private Danny Chen Way in 2014. The naming ceremony was attended by several city officials, local supporters, and Danny’s family. Today, that street is still a rallying point for Asian-American activists. It marks the spot of several vigils held in Danny’s honor as both family and community advocates fight to keep his memory alive.


4. Recent statistics show that Asian-Americans are enlisting in the military at a rate that is quite high compared to their share of the national population. This is also true for the country’s military academies. While Asian-American youth number at only 3.49% of the national population aged 18-24, in 2014 they represented nearly 10% of the student body at West Point, the Naval Academy, and the Air Force Academy.


5. Just as the US population has become increasingly diverse over the last several decades, the US military has also seen a remarkable growth in the diversity of its soldiers. In 2015, racial and ethnic minorities represented 40% of active-duty military. (In the same year, those minority groups constituted 44% of the total national population.) In addition, the number of active-duty female military personnel has risen by more than 4%.