Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Victory Gardens appoints renowned director and playwright Chay Yew as its new Artistic Director

Chay Yew © 2011 Lia Chang

Chay Yew © 2011 Lia Chang

Congratulations to award-winning director and playwright Chay Yew, who has just been appointed as the new Artistic Director of the Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago, Il. Yew will begin full-time with Victory Gardens in July, 2011.

Chay Yew’s appointment comes as Dennis Začek, VG’s Artistic Director of 34 years, retires 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,” said 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.”

“I’m excited and deeply honored to continue Dennis Začek’s vision in providing an artistic home for emerging and established theater artists in Chicago and around the country,” said Yew. “I plan to refine and amplify Victory Gardens’ mission of championing new plays and diversity as the mission remains close to my heart and everything I’ve done in American Theatre.”

Yew was the Founding Director of the Asian Theatre Workshop at the Mark Taper Forum and an Associate Artist, he also produced and presented several seasons at the Mark Taper Forum’s Taper Too. Some productions include Luis Alfaro’s Black Butterfly Jaguar Girl Pinata Woman and Other Superhero Girls Like Me, Jessica Goldberg’s Good Thing, Sunil Kuruvilla’s Rice Boy, Lynn Manning’s Weights, Ron Conboy’s Drive My Coche, a sixteen-playwright collaboration The Square, and John Walch’s The Circumference of a Squirrel.

While at the Taper’s Asian Theatre Workshop, he produced Alice Tuan’s Ikebana (with East West Players), Alec Mapa’s I Remember Mapa (With EWP, Asian American Theatre Company, Northwest Asian American Theatre), Sandra Tsing Loh’s Depth Becomes Her, HYMN TO HER: A Festival of Asian Female Performance, WORD UP! A Festival of Asian American Performance, Denise Uyehara’s Maps of Body and City (with Highways), Question 27 Question 28 (with EWP and Japanese American National Museum), A Beautiful Country (with Cornerstone Theatre Company and EWP) and annual play reading festivals of new Asian American work.

Yew is set to direct the world premiere of Dael Orlandersmith’s Black and Blue Boys at Berkeley Repertory Theatre and the Goodman Theatre. As a director, Chay 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. His productions have been cited by the Los Angeles Times and New York Times as one of the “Ten Best Productions of the Year;” Seattle Times and Strangers’ Best Achievement in Theatre; and was named Best Director by Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

As a playwright, Chay 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, UK), 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 plays are published in two titles, The Hyphenated American Plays and Porcelain and A Language of Their Own, by Grove Press; the latter was nominated for a Lamda Literary Award. His other plays are 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 is presently editing a new anthology Version 3.0: Contemporary Asian American Plays for TCG Publications.

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); Universes’ Eyewitness Blues (Goodman Theatre and Gala Hispanic Theatre); Our Town (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); Brainpeople (American Conservatory Theatre); Boleros for the Disenchanted (Huntington Theatre); Antebellum (Woolly Mammoth Theatre); 36 Views (Portland Center Stage, Geva Theatre Center and Laguna Playhouse); Frozen, The 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, Sandra Tsing Loh’s Depth Becomes Her, Alec Mapa’s I Remember Mapa and Drama! (Mark Taper Forum); The House of Bernarda Alba (National Asian American Theatre Company); A Winter People (Theatre at Boston Court); Red (Singapore Repertory Theatre and East West Players); Last of the Suns (Ma Yi Theatre Company); A Beautiful Country (Cornerstone Theatre Company), Home: Places Between Asia and America and James Sie’s 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 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).

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

He serves on the National Advisory Board at the Playwrights Center and the Artistic Advisory Board of Partial Comfort Theatre. He is a New York Theatre Workshop Usual Suspect and Vineyard Theatre Community of Artists. He has also served on the Board of Directors of Theatre Communications Group and is presently on the Executive Board of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers.

About Victory Gardens Theater
Under the leadership of Artistic Director Dennis Začek and Executive Director Jan Kallish, Victory Gardens Theater is home to the bold voices of world premiere theater. The company features the work of its own 14-member Playwrights Ensemble, as well as that of exciting playwrights who are changing theater in the U.S. and abroad. Since its founding in 1974, the company has produced more world premieres than any other Chicago theater, 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.

In 2006, Victory Gardens successfully completed an $11.8 million renovation of Chicago’s famed Biograph Theater, and moved two blocks north from its longtime venue at 2257 N. Lincoln Avenue, to its beautiful new home in one of Chicago’s most celebrated historic landmarks. Renamed Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, the new venue is a state-of-the-art 299-seat mainstage which has greatly expanded the company’s artistic flexibility. In 2009, Victory Gardens completed the second phase of renovation at the Biograph, building an intimate, new, 109-seat studio theater on the second floor. On March 1, 2010, at a special launch event for Victory Gardens’ Campaign for Growth, the theater’s new studio was officially named the Richard Christiansen Theater, in honor of the Chicago Tribune chief critic emeritus and longtime champion of Chicago’s live theater scene. Visit for more details.

Articles on Chay Yew
Variety: Yew to lead Victory Gardens
Stage Chay Yew Named Artistic Director at Victory Gardens Theater Chay Yew named artistic director of Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theater
Chicago Sun-Times: Victory Gardens picks Yew as Artistic Chief Victory Gardens announces new artistic director: Chay Yew Chay Yew Is New Artistic Director at Victory Gardens Theater Victory Gardens Names Chay Yew to replace Dennis Zacek as Artistic Director
Victory Gardens Announces New Artistic Director Chay Yew
Theatermania: Chay Yew to become Artistic Director of Victory Gardens Chay Yew Is the New Artistic Director of Tony-Winning Victory Gardens Theater Chay Yew Is the New Artistic Director of Tony-Winning Victory Gardens Theater

Other Articles by Lia Chang
Working Theater Presents Staged Reading of Chay Yew’s Visible Cities at The Studio Theatre on Theatre Row on 3/21
Alan Ariano, Rona Figueroa, Jose Llana, & Orville Mendoza in Chay Yew’s Long Season Ayala Foundation USA Gala in SF
New Dramatists Reading of Philip Kan Gotanda’s Love in American Times, directed by Chay Yew
Samrat Chakrabarti stars in Soham Mehta’s Fatakra, Shiva Shankar Bajpai’s Raju, and Rehana Mirza’s Zameer & Preeti at NYIFF
André De Shields stars in Chicago Premiere of Charles Smith’s The Gospel According to James at Victory Gardens 5/14-6/12
AEA celebrates Asian Heritage Month w/ Leviathan Lab’s Asian American Female Playwright’s Short Play Festival in NY, 5/12-13
National Museum of the American Indian in NY, ESSENTIALLY INDIGENOUS?: Contemporary Native Arts Symposium, 5/5-6
Nicholas Galanin featured in SEEING INDIGENOUS Indigenous Art and Media Arts on Film at the National Museum of the American Indian in NY on 5/7
LUCKYRICE Festival 2011 in New York includes Daniel Boulud, Susur Lee, Anito Lo, Masaharu Morimoto, May 2-8, 2011
Vikas Khanna’s Holy Kitchens Karma to Nirvana premieres at New York Indian Film Festival on 5/7 at Tribeca Cinemas
Ruby Dee, Alicia Keys, Sidney Poitier among honorees at Woodie King, Jr.’s New Federal Theatre’s 40th Anniversary Gala at Edison Ballroom on May 22
32nd Annual Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Festival at Union Square Park in NYC on May 8, 2011
11th Annual New York Indian Film Festival (NYIFF), May 4-8, 2011
Video: Aroon Shivdasani interviews Samrat Chakrabarti at Mahindra Indo-American Arts Council (MIAAC) Film Festival
Up Close and Personal with Darren Pettie, Star of The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore
House of Payne’s Denise Burse on the 2011 NAACP Image Awards & Season 7
Photos & Video Disney’s The Lion King Las Vegas-In the Makeup Chair with Thom Sesma
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2011 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at

Lia Chang Photo by Brianne Michelle Photography

Lia Chang Photo by Brianne Michelle Photography

Lia Chang is an actor, performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multimedia journalist.

As a photographer and videographer, Lia collaborates with artists, organizations and companies in establishing their documentary photo archive and social media presence. She has been documenting her colleagues and contemporaries in the arts, fashion and journalism since making her stage debut as Liat in the National Tour of South Pacific, with Robert Goulet and Barbara Eden. Lia currently plays Nurse Lia on “One Life to Live”. She has appeared in Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and “New York Undercover”.

Selections of Lia’s archive of Asian Pacific Americans in the arts, fashion, journalism, politics and space are now in the newly created LIA CHANG THEATER PHOTOGRAPHY PORTFOLIO in the ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN PERFORMING ARTS COLLECTION housed in the Library of Congress Asian Division’s Asian American Pacific Islander Collection.

Lia’s portraits and performance photos have appeared in Vanity Fair, Gourmet, German Elle, Women’s Wear Daily, The Paris Review, TV Guide, Daily Variety, Interior Design, American Theatre,, Life & Style, OUT, New York Magazine, InStyle,,,,,, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, USA Today, The Boston Globe, New York Times and Washington Post. A former syndicated arts and entertainment columnist for KYODO News, Lia is the New York Bureau Chief for She writes about culture, style and Asian American issues for a variety of publications and this Backstage Pass with Lia Chang blog.


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