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A Language of Their Own is a lyrical and dramatic meditation on the nature of desire and sexuality as four men –– three Asian and one white –– come together and drift apart in a series of interconnective stories. Language was awarded the George and Elisabeth Marton Playwriting Award and the GLAAD Media Award for Best Play.


A Language of Their Own received its world premiere at Celebration Theatre, Los Angeles on May 6, 1994. The director was Tim Dang. 

Oscar: Dennis Dun

Ming: Chris Tashima

Daniel: Noel Alumit

Robert: Anthony David

The play received its New York premiere at the Public Theater in New York on April 20, 1995. It was directed by Ong Keng Sen.

Oscar: Francis Jue

Ming: B.D. Wong

Daniel: Alec Mapa

Robert: David Drake

A Language of Their Own was a part of the Whitelands Trilogy at East West Players in Los Angeles, on March 16, 1996. The play was directed by Tim Dang.

Oscar: Steve Park

Ming: Eric Steinberg

Daniel: Radmar Jao

Robert: Ben Shepard

Understudies: Art Desuyo, Merv Maruyama, Thomas Weber, Ray Chang


A Language of Their Own is a lop-sided beauty, introducing one of the most original new voices of the season - it is not written so much as it is sculpted, with the supple precision and blistered fingers of a real artist. Yew's play is much about language as it is about human connections: the link between mother tongue and personal identity, the private language with which lovers communicate." - New York Newsday

"Forty years ago, John Osborne in Look Back in Anger first drew attention to the secret codes of lovers. Yew's beautifully written play now suggests that the dots, dashes and pauses of that code, the words and gestures, their establishment and sometimes their erosion and final collapse, are a metaphor for the course of the affair, indeed, an allegory of love. It's a thought, and one exquisitely expressed." - New York Post

"A meditation on love. A spoken love duet. A wilder, much more telling inquiry into love, loss, language, and the endless process of self-definition." - New York Times

"Mr. Yew exhibits a talent for using words that are plain and simple to get at love's rich complications" - The New Yorker 

"A Language of Their Own is a seamless work that guides between narrative and drama... notable fir the way Chay Yew offers up tender matters of the heart in strikingly universal themes. For those who care to listen, A Language of Their Own easily crosses many prejudicial barriers of race and sexuality." - The Star-Ledger

"The characters in [Porcelain and A Language of Their Own] just want what we all want: to be included. Yet society sets them apart because of their ethnicity, their sexuality or their HIV status. Their fate as outsiders - rejection, isolation and loneliness - courses  through the plays in this collection, erupting in ways that are sometimes shockingly unpleasant, sometimes surpassingly beautiful, sometimes both at once... The language is nearly poetic, colorful, evocative, graphic, exhilarating... Again and again, Yew's words and images sear themselves into the brain." - Los Angeles Daily News 


"Chay Yew: The Importance of being Verbal" - American Theatre

"Having Their Say" - Village Voice

"Curtain Rising For Chay Yew: Trilogy speaks volumes about acclaimed playwright" - Daily News 

"Tongue Untied: A. Magazine's Terry Hong talks to Chay Yew, author of the play, A Language of Their Own" - A. Magazine 

"A Language Of His Own: Playwright Chay Yew Searches for the American Dream" - Los Angeles View 

"A Thinking (And Feeling) Reed" - Bay Area Reporter

"Grappling With Sexual Politics And Love" - Singapore Straits Times

"Becoming Singaporean and Asian: Performance of Chineseness and Queerness Via Chay Yew's A Language of Their Own"

"Fashioning Identities: The Semiotics of Dress in Asian American Literature"

"The Malleability of Truth and Language in Chay Yew's Porcelain and A Language of Their Own" - Journal of Contemporary Drama in English 

"The Language of Chay Yew" - Metro  Arts and Entertainment Weekly 

"Words To Live By: A young, gay, Asian playwright uses 'Language' to chronicle two, young, gay, Asian men in band relationships. This is his story, not his life." - San Jose Mercury News

New York reviews

Other reviews

"Mining The Crossroad of Race and Sex: Unflinching Look At The Majority, The Minority And Everything In Between " - Frontiers 

"A True Artist And A True Writer: Chay Yew, director of Whitelands, uncovers the neglected truth in his work" - Arts and Entertainment

"Whitelands, A Powerful Study In Individuality, Acceptance" - Daily News

Whitelands flier

Whitelands show program 

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