This is a video of Act I, Scene Six, in the original production of “M. Butterfly.” In it, Song, played by B.D. Wong, has just finished her tribute to the opera “Madama Butterfly” by singing the “Death Scene.” Gallimard (John Lithgow) is transfixed by her perfomance as we have read in the play. But besides this background context, I chose this video because I think it is important to see how lines in a play are delivered. Just reading, a person can assume multiple meanings of one phrase, but in a live production, one can see the choices an actor makes-one of the many reasons I love theater.
Reading the scene, we already got a sense of Song’s character, very blunt, some even said sassy. Wong further supports the character traits in his deliverance of her speech. However, when I first read the play, I didn’t get that sense of sarcasm, but of tragedy especially with the quote “I will never do ‘Butterfly’ again…” I immediately looked up the scene and saw how funny it was prortrayed to be.
Actors can deliver things differently, and that is a common theme in the play as well: one might see one thing, but the intention is different. It is all about perception.