Lauren Yee’s plays can be seen across the map – Spotlight


To call Lab Member, Lauren Yee, a popular playwright this season might be an understatement. With several plays in rotation and new works in development, Yee is a bright light among women and asian writers creating innovative and thought provoking pieces that challenge traditional theater and bring cultural and human understanding to the stage.

inaword “in a word” 

Her play “in a word” opens at CHERRY LANE THEATRE at 38 Commerce Street in Manhattan on June 16 through July 8, 2017. Lesser America’s production is directed by Tyne Rafaeli. 

The play, which recently won the Francesca Primus Prize, begins on the “two-year anniversary of Fiona’s son’s disappearance, and still, nothing makes sense to the grieving mother. Not her blasé husband, the incompetent detective, or the neighborhood kidnapper who keeps introducing himself in the checkout line. As Fiona delves back into her memories of that fateful day, to uncover that crucial missing piece, grief and comedy collide, and ordinary turns of phrase take on dangerous new meanings. ”

The Chance Theater in Anaheim, Calif., will also be producing in a word (Sept. 8-Oct. 8).



 King of The Yees 

One of Yee’s most well known works, this “semi autobiographical” play is described by The Goodman Theater, where it just completed an April-May production in Chicago:

“Growing up just outside of San Francisco’s Chinatown, Lauren Yee has always felt like an outsider, especially compared to her father Larry, the unofficial king of the Chinese community. But when her father disappears, she must embrace her heritage for the first time in order to find him. Explore America’s largest Chinatown through the eyes of a new generation in this hilarious and heartfelt comedy.”

In association with the Goodman and incorporating the Chicago cast, King of the Yees begins previews July 9, opens July 16 and continues through August 6, 2017, at the Kirk Douglas Theatre and then at ACT Theatre in Seattle, Sep. 8-Oct. 1, 2017.

“In researching the play, both father and daughter traveled to Taishan, China, the purported birthplace of the Yee ancestral line. “In order to learn about my father, I had to write a play about him,” she admits. Not that King of the Yees is a documentary play. In it, the fictional Lawrence disappears, and Lauren must find him via a fantastical journey through Chinatown, complete with a Matrix-style gunfight and a lion dance. In one memorable scene, she talks to the ghost of her ancestors, who closes their conversation with: “Go Yees! And fuck those Wongs.”  More from From

The play will also be presented at The Dorsett (Vermont) Theater New Play Reading in August.

The Great Leap

In May, Yee compled a residency in the American Conservatory Theater’s New Strands Festival in San Francisco in May with a reading of her play The Great Leap  In 2018, Denver Center Theatre will produce the world premiere of The Great Leap, also inspired by Yee’s father, about the interaction between a Chinese and an American basketball coach during the cultural revolution.


San Francisco: Former Ma-Yi Executive Director and Board Member, Jorge Ortoll, with playwright Lauren Yee at The New Strands Festival presenting “The Great Leap” following a residency at American Conservatory Theater with Ma-Yi serving as inaugural partner for the program.

Cambodian Rock Band

Recently Yee was at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa presenting her play Cambodian Rock Band at the Pacific Playwrights Festival (April 21-23). The world premiere of Cambodian Rock Band  (March 4-25, 2018) will employ the music of real-life rock band Dengue Fever, to tell the story of the fallout from the Khmer Rouge. Synopsis: “In 1978, Chum fled Cambodia and narrowly escaped the murderous Khmer Rouge regime. Thirty years later, he returns in search of his wayward daughter and is forced to finally face the music”.

The Voice Of

Perry-Mansfield’s 20th Annual New Works Festival will develop Yee’s The Voice Of  presenting on June 16 and 17 in Steamboat Springs, CO in partnership with Seattle Repertory Theatre, directed by Joshua Kahan Brody.

“Throughout the 20th century, the Voice of America radio broadcast served as the United States’ propaganda tool in the fight against Communism, blaring news and music to our frenemies around the world. But who was listening and what might they beam back to us, if given the chance? An exploration of family, music, and memory across time and space.”

Executive producer Jim Steinberg said, “Over the course of its 20 years the Perry-Mansfield New Works Festival has become a significant generator of new American plays that consistently go on to multiple productions. Working in a beautiful mountain environment, playwrights, directors and actors flock to Steamboat Springs for the open, welcoming atmosphere where creativity rules.”


From Susan Fairbooks, Play by Play

See Lauren Yee’s bio here.


On Stage
The Labbies
Ma-Yi Theater Company 520 Eighth Avenue, Suite 309 New York, NY 10018 212.971.4862 info [at]