THE HYPHENATED AMERICAN: FOUR PLAYS BY CHAY YEW (GROVE ATLANTIC)
In a collection in which individual plays have been 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, Chay Yew deftly investigates artistic expression and the immigrant experience.
In Red, a magical, mysterious drama set during China’s Cultural Revolution, a renowned actor stands his ground against a young revolutionary in a struggle that pits politics against free expression and one generation against another. Set in New York’s Chinatown, Scissors is a moving portrait of a weekly haircutting ritual between an elderly Chinese manservant and hisCaucasian ex-employer. A Beautiful Country chronicles the turbulent history of Asians in America through the eyes of an immigrant drag queen, Miss Visa Denied. In Wonderland, a family working toward the American dream experiences dramatic and unexpected developments that threaten to shatter its hopes.
"The plays in his new collection, The Hyphenated American, explode into newer, broader and more wildly theatrical territory. The plays constitute an exciting change, making Yew accessible to wider audiences as he examines America's contradictory messages about identity using historical sources, historical fantasies and a middle-class American family. In Wonderland, the last and best play in the collection... is a mighty operatic tragedy of the American family. The play has the weight of one of Miller's and O'Neill's classics - an ode to the hopes and damaged reality of the American family. Yet the characters here are Asian Americans and Son is a gay man whose coming out is a symbol of American Yet the characters here are Asian Americans and Son is a gay man whose coming out is a symbol of American individuality. Suddenly, the subjects of Asian American identity, gay identity, assimilation and freedom are thematically harmonized to create a fresh, stunningly honest and deeply heartfelt portrait of an American family. The play's emotions feel so true that even non-Asian readers will identify with the family and see that Yew's writing about the Asian American experience reveals something profound about all Americans in a place that is increasingly hyphenated, isolated, complicated and fragmented. Wonderland is irresistible in its compassion and undeniable in its redrawing of the American family and its struggle. In A Beautiful Country, his radical experiments with form, and especially his use of camp, transform historical events and re-map today's reality of an American identity in ways that both profound and entertaining. [His plays] embody, with perfect economic and invention, the new characters of a new America." - Lambda Book Report
“[A] memorable volume of collected plays by one of the most hard-working, prolific, talented, tenacious – not to mention incredibly charming – playwrights of our generation.” – Asian Week
“Yew wrestles with the multiplicity of the Asian-American experience . . . [and] demonstrates the ability to shock and enlighten by writing it straight. It makes for a vital evening of theatre.” – Back Stage West/DramaLogue
Review (Lambda Book Report)
"The Hyphenated American" Foreword by Craig Lucas
"The Hyphenated American" Introduction by David Roman
"Outside Our Skin: Interview with Chay Yew" - Lamda Book Report