As a playwright, Chay Yew's plays include Porcelain, A Language of Their Own, Red, Wonderland, Question 27 Question 28, A Distant Shore, 17, and Visible Cities. His other work includes adaptations, A Winter People (based on Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard) and Lorca's The House of Bernarda Alba, a musical Long Season and other theatre works, Vivien and the Shadows; Home: Places between Asia and America and A Beautiful Country. His work has been produced at the Public Theater, Mark Taper Forum, Manhattan Theatre Club, Long Wharf Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, Intiman Theatre, Wilma Theatre, Portland Center Stage, East West Players, Dallas Theatre Center, Cornerstone Theatre Company, Group Theatre. Studio Theatre, Perseverance Theatre, Dad's Garage, Crowded Fire, Smithsonian Institute, North Carolina Performing Arts, amongst many others. Overseas, his work has been produced by the Royal Court Theatre (London, UK), Fattore K and Napoli Teatro Festival (Naples, Italy), La Mama (Melbourne, Australia), Shanghai Dramatic Arts Center (Shanghai), Four Arts (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), Singapore Repertory Theatre, Toy Factory, Checkpoint Theatre, TheatreWorks Singapore, to name a few. For his plays, he is the recipient of the London Fringe Award for Best Playwright and Best Play, George and Elisabeth Marton Playwriting Award, GLAAD Media Award, Asian Pacific Gays and Friends’ Community Visibility Award, Made in America Award, AEA/SAG/AFTRA 2004 Diversity Honor, and Robert Chesley Award; he has also received grants from the McKnight Foundation, Rockefeller MAP Fund and the TCG/Pew National Residency Program. His plays “The Hyphenated American Plays” and “Porcelain and A Language of Their Own” are published by Grove Press; the latter was nominated for a Lamda Literary Award, and anthologized in “Staging Gay Lives,” “Take Out,” “But Still, Like Air, I’ll Rise,” “Humana Festival 2002 and 2006: The Complete Plays” and “American Political Plays After 9/11.” He recently edited two new anthologies “Version 3.0: Contemporary Asian American Plays” for TCG Publications and “Manifesto Series V4” for Rain City Projects. He is presently working on commissions by Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Writers Theatre.
As a director, his New York credits include Oedipus el Rey, Durango, Universes’ Ameriville and Low (Public Theater); The Architecture of Loss (New York Theatre Workshop); A Cool Dip in the Barren Saharan Crick (Playwrights Horizon); Draw The Circle (Rattlestick, Mosaic Theater Company and Playmakers Rep); My Manana Comes (Playwrights Realm); Where Do We Sit on the Bus? (Ensemble Studio Theatre); The House of Bernarda Alba (National Asian American Theatre Company); and Last of the Suns (Ma-Yi Theatre Company). His Chicago credits include Lettie, A Wonder In My Soul, The House That Will Not Stand, Roz and Ray, Hillary and Clinton, Gospel of Lovingkindness, Oedipus el Rey, Mojada, Death and the Maiden and Ameriville (Victory Gardens Theater); Lady in Denmark, Black n Blue Boys/Broken Men, Dartmoor Prison and Universes’ Eyewitness Blues (Goodman Theatre); Where Did We Sit on the Bus? (Teatro Vista and Victory Gardens, Boise Contemporary Theater); and Po Boy Tango (Northlight Theater). Some of his regional and international credits include Stuck Elevator and Brain People (American Conservatory Theatre); Cambodian Rock Band (South Coast Repertory Theatre); Durango and Stuck Elevator (Long Wharf Theatre); Cambodian Rock Band, Hannah and the Dread Gazebo and Our Town (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); Black n Blue Boys/Broken Men (Berkeley Rep); Strike/Slip (Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Humana Festival); Low (Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Humana Festival, Cincinnati Playhouse, Pillsbury Theatre); Ameriville (Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Humana Festival, Roundhouse Theatre, Southern Repertory Theatre and Curious Theatre); Eyewitness Blues (Gala Hispanic Theatre); Citizen 13559: The Diary of Ben Uchida (Kennedy Center); Roz and Ray (Seattle Repertory Theatre); Black Odyssey (Denver Center Theater); Universes’ Spring Training and Draw The Circle (Playmakers Rep); Boleros for the Disenchanted (Huntington Theatre); Antebellum (Woolly Mammoth Theatre); 36 Views (Portland Center Stage, Geva Theatre Center and Laguna Playhouse); Draw the Circle (Interact Theatre Company); Frozen, Laramie Project and Strange Attractors (Empty Space); M. Butterfly, Golden Child, Sisters Matsumoto, Big Hunk O’ Burnin’ Love and Pointless (East West Players); Sex Parasite, Question 27 Question 28, Rice Boy, Depth Becomes Her, I Remember Mapa and Drama! (Mark Taper Forum); A Winter People and Winchester House (Theatre at Boston Court); Red (Singapore Repertory Theatre / Singapore International Arts Festival and East West Players); A Beautiful Country (Cornerstone Theatre Company), Home: Places between Asia and America, Talking with My Hands (Northwest Asian American Theatre); Brian Freeman’s Civil Sex (Walk and Squawk); Denise Uyehara’s Maps of Body and City (Highways Performance Space); and David Schmader’s Straight (Theatre Rhinoceros, Highways and NWAAT). His opera credits include the world premieres of Osvaldo Golijov’s and David Henry Hwang’s Ainadamar (co-production with Tanglewood Music Center, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and Los Angeles Philharmonic) and Rob Zuidam’s Rage D’Amors (Tanglewood). He is also a recipient of the OBIE and DramaLogue Awards for Direction.
An alumnus of New Dramatists, he has served on the Board of Directors of Theatre Communications Group and the Executive Board on the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers. He’s currently on the Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events’ Cultural Advisory Council, Consortium of Asian American Theatre and Artists, and the League of Chicago Theatres. He was also the founder and director of the Mark Taper Forum’s Asian Theatre Workshop.
He is also the Artistic Director of Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago since July 2011. For his leadership, he was awarded the 2016 Iris Award for his commitment to connecting Chicago's communities and the arts, and the 2017 Impact Award for Bold and Inclusive Artistic Leadership. He has been named by New City Paper's "Players: Fifty People Who Really Perform for Chicago" in 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2013.