From 2011 to 2020, Chay Yew was the Artistic Director of Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago.
During his tenure, out of 43 productions, 18 plays received world premieres of which one went to Broadway, four were produced off-Broadway at the Public, Soho Rep, and Signature Theatre, while others were presented regionally, and abroad at Donmar Warehouse and Bush Theatre in London. Three plays also received the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Work.
At Victory Gardens, he created the Chicago Play Cycle Play, and eight new plays reflecting and representing the diverse communities of Chicago were produced. New plays developed at the annual Ignition Festival of New Plays have gone on to productions at South Coast Rep, Second Stage, Geffen Playhouse, Wilma Theatre, National Black Theatre, Trinity Rep, amongst others. As the theatre's first, he also partnered with City Theatre in Pittsburgh, and Merrimack Repertory Theatre in Lowell, on a co-production of Lauren Yee's Cambodian Rock Band. He has also partnered with Actors Theatre of Louisville's Humana Festival and Seattle Rep to produce three co-world premieres.
He also established several programs: the Directors Inclusion initiative to develop emerging Chicago stage directors who identify as people of color, disabled, women, transgender, gender non‐conforming, and/or LGBTQ; the Next Generation Fellowship, a professional development program, for our next generation of arts leaders and managers of color through hands‐on experience, mentorship, career guidance; and the Resident Theatre Program, an incubator for existing Chicago storefront theatres to further each company’s growth and stability by giving them a physical home to nurture its audience base, develop its respective boards, and fully realize the next phases of their strategic plans through multi-year residencies.
Under his artistic leadership, Chay Yew created an intentional focus on work that values and celebrates our city's and nation's diversity. In 2017, he created the tag line "Your World On Stage" to signify Victory Gardens' commitment to present stories that reflect Chicago's rich diversity and unique cultures. In 2019, there were more than 40% African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, Native American (ALAANA), and more than 50% women on staff; board composition was more than 40% ALAANA and about 55% women; and Victory Gardens artists comprised of 60% ALAANA with 50% women.
For his leadership, he was awarded the Iris Award for Outstanding Commitment to Connecting Chicago Communities and the Arts, and the Impact Award for Bold and Inclusive Artistic Leadership.
VICTORY GARDENS PROFILE (AS OF 2019)
DIVERSITY, EQUITY, INCLUSION AND ACCESS
IGNITION FESTIVAL OF NEW PLAYS
CHICAGO PLAY CYCLE
"Victory Gardens Announces New Artistic Director Chay Yew" (Theatre in Chicago)
"Chay Yew Talks About His Plans For Making Victory Gardens Grow" (Chicago Tribune)
"Opening Doors Mean Rattling Some Cages" (New York Times)
"Triple Threats" (American Theatre)
"Chay Yew Aims For A Victory: The Celebrated Playwright And Director Discusses His New Position As Artistic Director Of Chicago's Victory Gardens Theater" (TheatreMania)
"What's New?: At Victory Gardens Theater, Artistic Director Chay Yew Keeps An Eye Peeled For Shows You've Never Seen Before" (ChicagoPlays)
"How Chay Yew Made Victory Gardens Feel New Again" (Chicago Magazine)
"Lack of Diversity Among Chicago Stage Directors, Says Victory Gardens Theater" (WTTW)
"Meaningful Dialogue" (HowlRound)
"Artistic Director Chay Yew: 'Audiences Come Here Wanting a Dialogue'" (The Stage UK)
"Turning On A Dime: Victory Gardens Theater Shifts Its Schedule When Playwright Marcus Gardley Writes A New Show In Response To Current Events" (Playbill)
"The Singular Voice of Two Collaborators" (SDC Journal)
"The Big Ask" (American Theatre)
"A Look at How Theatres Have Filled Gaps in Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion" (Nonprofit Quarterly)
"Chay Yew will Depart as Victory Gardens Artistic Director at the End of Season" (Broadway World)
"We Had to Close 'Dhaba', but Our Story is Not Ended" (American Theatre)
"Break the Table and Build a New One" (American Theatre)
For more new coverage on Victory Gardens, please visit "News Archive"
Victory Gardens Town Hall: WE MUST BREATHE
Victory Gardens Town Hall: #NeverAgainChicago