Clive Owen, Julie Taymor, and David Henry Hwang are uniting for the first Broadway revival of Hwang’s play M. Butterfly.
Owen will star as Rene Gallimard, while Taymor will direct. The play is inspired by Giacomo Puccini’s opera Madama Butterfly as well as the real-life love affair between French diplomat Bernard Boursicot and Chinese opera singer Shi Pei Pu. M. Butterfly follows the love affair between Gallimard (Owen), a married Frenchman, and a mysterious Chinese opera singer. Their relationship lasts 20 years and blurs the boundaries of gender, but betrayal was waiting in the wings.
For this revival, Taymor and Hwang collaborated to incorporate recent information on the real-life couple that has come to light since the play’s 1988 premiere. “Almost 30 years have passed since I read the newspaper article that inspired me to write M. Butterfly,” said Hwang in a statement. “Julie’s suggestion to look at the wealth of new information about the real affair between Bernard Boursicot and Shi Pei Pu that has surfaced since the show’s premiere helped to unlock new possibilities within the play. I’m thrilled with this opportunity to revisit these characters — their motivations and their personal and political deceptions — to more fully explore this extraordinary love affair.”
“M. Butterfly is like a Chinese puzzle, with layer upon layer of meaning; the more deeply you explore it, the more its essence is revealed,” added Taymor. “The fact that David was excited to revisit his characters and further develop their stories proves what a brave and inquisitive writer he is. Collaborating with him on the text of this fascinating story has been a joy, and this version is proving to be a true metamorphosis. And to have this complex character brought to life by Clive Owen, an actor I’ve wanted to work with for many years, is an extraordinary opportunity.”
“I could not be more excited to take on such a complex and fascinating role for my return to Broadway,” Owen said in a statement. “M. Butterfly offers a novel challenge with its inherent mystery and astonishing storyline. I’m looking forward to diving into the mind of Rene Gallimard and I can think of no one better than the brilliant Julie Taymor to bring this wonderful, daring, original play to life.”
The production will open on Oct. 26, at a theater yet to be announced. Additional casting will come at a later date.