Chay Yew Is the New Artistic Director of Tony-Winning Victory Gardens Theater | Playbill

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News Chay Yew Is the New Artistic Director of Tony-Winning Victory Gardens Theater Playwright and director Chay Yew has been named the new artistic director of the Tony Award-winning Victory Gardens Theater, the Chicago company renowned for its stable of in-house playwrights.

Chay Yew
Chay Yew

Yew, who is experienced with new works, will begin full-time with Victory Gardens in July. He succeeds Dennis Začek, VG's artistic director of 34 years, who is retiring from the post.

"We are extremely pleased and excited that Chay Yew has joined our company to continue the VG legacy that Dennis has developed over the past three decades," stated board president Jeffrey Rappin. "He brings vast experience in new work development and, in partnership with executive director Jan Kallish, he will lead VG in bringing the best new work and artists to our stages. We are confident that our company is in good hands and that the mission of VG will be continued with Chay as artistic leader."

As a director, Yew has directed world premieres by playwrights Jose Rivera, Naomi Iizuka, Kia Corthron, Julia Cho, David Adjmi and Jessica Goldberg, and performance artists Rha Goddess, Universes, Alec Mapa, Sandra Tsing Loh and Brian Freeman. He has also directed and developed new plays at the Sundance Institute, O'Neill Playwrights Conference, Ojai Playwrights Festival, Public Theatre's New Work Now, New Dramatists, Denver Theatre Center's New Play Summit, Playwrights Horizons, Yale Rep's Musical Theatre Institute, Goodman's Latino Festival, South Coast Repertory Theatre's Pacific Playwrights Festival, Lark Theatre Company, New York Theatre Workshop's Dartmouth and Vassar Retreats, New World Theatre, Playwrights Center, Mark Taper Forum's New Works Festival, A.S.K. Theatre Projects, among others.

He is a recipient of the OBIE and DramaLogue Awards for Direction.

As a playwright, Yew's plays include Porcelain and 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 multimedia works, Vivien and the Shadows, Home: Places Between Asia and America and A Beautiful Country. His produced short plays include White, A Corner of the World, Blow, Faces of Ants, Gestures, Here and Now, Imelda and Cher at The Top of The World, Scissors and Second Skin. 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, U.K.), Fattore K and Napoli Teatro Festival (Naples, Italy), La Mama (Melbourne, Australia), Four Arts (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), Singapore Repertory Theatre, Toy Factory, Checkpoint Theatre, and TheatreWorks Singapore.

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 received grants from the McKnight Foundation, Rockefeller MAP Fund and the TCG/Pew National Residency Program.

His directing credits include Durango (Public Theater and Long Wharf); The Architecture of Loss (New York Theatre Workshop); Cool Dip in the Barren Sahara Crick (Playwrights Horizon); Low (Public Theater, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Cincinnati Playhouse, Pillsbury Theatre); Citizen 13559: The Diary of Ben Uchida (Kennedy Center); Universes' Ameriville (Public Theater, Roundhouse Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Southern Repertory Theatre and Curious Theatre); and many more.

He is the founding director of the Asian Theatre Workshop at the Mark Taper Forum, and an associate artist there, where he produced and presented several seasons at the Mark Taper Forum's Taper Too.

An alumnus of New Dramatists, he has held residencies at Mu Lan Theatre Company, Northwest Asian American Theatre Company and East West Players.

His upcoming productions include the world premiere of Dael Orlandersmith's Black and Blue Boys at Berkeley Repertory Theatre and the Goodman Theatre.


Victory Gardens Theater features the work of its own 14-member Playwrights Ensemble, "as well as that of playwrights who are changing theatre in the U.S. and abroad." Since its founding in 1974, the company has produced more world premieres than any other Chicago theatre, a commitment recognized nationally when Victory Gardens received the 2001 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre. The company's dedication to developing, supporting and producing new work makes Victory Gardens an American Center for New Plays.


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