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When Chairman Mao's turbulent Cultural Revolution swept through China, the ancient, glorious art form of the Beijing Opera became a pawn in the dangerous game of new politics versus old traditions. For a man whose life plays out on the stage and a woman caught up in the Revolution, they become embroiled in clashes over artistic purpose, political power, and changing values. As the conflicts play out, decisions made from good intentions produce unexpected, far-reaching consequences. Only years later will they realize that art can withstand the blows of history and bonds may prove too strong to be broken. Red was nominated for the Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Playwriting Award, the PEN/USA West Literary Award, and the American Theatre Critics/Steinberg New Play Award.


Red received its world premiere at Intiman Theatre in Seattle on August 28, 1998. It was directed by Lisa Peterson. 

Sonja: Jeanne Sakata

Hua: Sab Shimino

Ling: Michi Barall

The play received its New York premiere at Manhattan Theatre Club on March 2, 1999. The director was David Petraca.

Sonja: Jodi Long

Hua: Rick Young

Ling: Liana Pai

Red was produced at Singapore Repertory Theatre and the Singapore Arts Festival on June 7, 2001, and at East West Players on September 27, 2001. It was directed by Chay Yew.

Sonja: Emily Kuroda

Hua: Jeanne Sakata

Ling: Paige Leong


"A huge artistic leap from Yew's best-know previous work, A Language of Their Own... full of surprising plot twists, unfolding like a Chinese box. A weighty undertaking, but one beautifully distilled into three elegant, engaging characters." - USA Today

"Intense drama about the personal and the political legacy of the Chinese Cultural Revolution... Yew's play is at once forceful and delicate, historical and imaginative, personal and populist, humorous and tragic." - San Francisco Examiner

"A riveting and deeply resonant drama... Yew showed great promise with the intense gay men's room murder mystery Porcelain [and] the spare poetry and dense theatricality of Red  fulfills a great deal of that promise." - San Francisco Chronicle

"A rich and intense play... The personal and the historic and the artistic emerge in this extraordinarily ambitious play. And then add theatricality to all of this.  - Philadelphia City Paper

"Dramaturgical and visual brilliance... an intimate epic in which the personal and political are inexorably linked." - Philadelphia Weekly 

"Magic... Red shows a major talent, a man driven to delve into difficult themes. Yew writes with wit, and with passion." - Hartford Courant

"Heartbreaking story of devotion, betrayal and the search for redemption... [Red] is earnest, nostalgic and ultimately moving." - The Oregonian 

"With style and intelligence, pulling up the immediate social psychological roots of authoritarian systems... the smooth incorporation of elements of Beijing Opera lends Yew's sly but essentially realistic story of an artist in time of repression a stylized almost allegorical dimension." - San Francisco Bay Guardian

"Persuasive and evocative enough to become an important work of our time... Yew's ambitious play grips both the intellect and the heart, encompassing a significant cultural event by examining its indelible, bruising effect on two individuals caught up in history." - Palo Alto Weekly

"Playwright Chay Yew balances the quaint voluptuousness of language against the harshess of the blood-soaked Cultural Revolution to see into the heart of his remarkable characters in Red.  Listening to Yew's words is very like getting the aural image while your eyes are getting the visual one of the horror of the Revolution and the glory of art in its highest. The more you think about this about this play, the more you see." - Connecticut Post

"Non-linear and non-chronological, Red in many ways, is a meditation on art and creativity. Or as playwright Yew said, it's really about "what you would do for your art and at what cast." Yew sets up these themes, then skillfully subverts the structure as a way of talking about families and the ties that binds. He sidesteps resolutions but the play was nonetheless moving. Accomplished and finely crafted... one of the most pleasure aspects of Red is the process of discovery woven into the writing. Yew's writing was extremely polished, the dialogue crisp, and the narrative lucid and very clever with being gimmicky." - Singapore Business Times

"Exquisite craftsmanship: Act I lays out Yew's captivating plot, then Act II rips it apart like a thunderbolt from the left field. And when it's all over, the audience sits there speechless." - Press Telegram 

"A fine-tuned, inspired work... told out of chronological sequence, Red presents its characters as a set of boxes within boxes, each darker and more troubled than the one before. Yew turns his characters inside out, allowing us to see them in their harshest moments, allowing us to trace their journeys to discover purpose in their lives and art." - Back Stage

"Intense... this is a riveting drama about Chairman Mao's Cultural Revolution that swept through China during those turbulent days in the '60s." - Talkin Broadway

"Searing, disturbing, fascinating... Red explores a frightening history that has relevance to our own culture and tells a powerful personal story about how artistic passion can survive political upheaval." - Main Line Times


"Red - A World Premiere" - Intiman Theatre

"An Outsider Determined Not To Be Someone He's Not" - New York Times 

"The Uneasy Dance" - Village Voice

"One Mao Time: When It Comes To Censorship, SIngapore playwright Chay Yew Sees Red" - TimeOut New York

"Nothing Compares to Yew" - The Advocate

"Bang The Gong Slowly - Asian  American Theatre's Great Leap Forward with David Henry Hwang and Chay Yew" - LA Weekly 

"The Politics of Expression: Red confronts artistic censorship in China, United States - Asian Week 

"Red Dawn: Playwright Chay Yew Talks about the Origins of One of This year's Hottest Plays" - The Oregonian

"A Drama of China's Seizure Of The Arts" - Philadelphia Inquirer

"One Mao Time: When it comes to censorship, Singapore playwright Chay Yew sees Red" - TimeOut New York 

"Red Seems Color of Success"  - The Oregonian 

"Red Takes Mao's Culture Wars Personally"  - Republican-American

"Fusion: David Drake Interviews Chay Yew" - Lambda Book Report

"Write Where He Belongs" - Singapore Business Times 

"It Had To Be Yew" - In Theater

"Conversations with Red Playwright Chay Yew" 

Red reviews 1

Red reviews 2

Red fliers 

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