i write plays.



Ching Chong Chinaman
The Hatmaker’s Wife
in a word
King of the Yees
The Tiger Among Us


City Pages Top 10 play of 2009
East Bay Express Top 10 play of 2008

“A lively, likable show… The playwright, Lauren Yee, gleefully highlights the assimilated life of the Wongs, who defy the stereotype of the hard-driving Chinese-American family. It’s clever, and her insights are astute.” — Ken Jaworowski, New York Times

“In her new play “Ching Chong Chinaman,” Lauren Yee lifts America’s vaunted melting pot off the patriotic flame and splatters it all over the stove.” — Pat Craig, Contra Costa Times

“A gleefully irreverent, audaciously un-PC comedy about cultural identity.” — Chad Jones, Theatre Dogs

“… the play by 23-year-old San Franciscan and recent Yale grad Yee is whip-smart and very funny, in a snappy production by Desdemona Chiang with a strong cast.” — Sam Hurwitt, East Bay Express

“A wild ride—fast, furious and very funny.” — Ken Bullock, Berkeley Daily Planet

“This play is too smart and funny to miss.” — Kat Chamberlain, nytheatre.com

“Yee’s script takes on questions of ethnic identity while, with agility, transferring them to the universal gulf between yearning and reality.” — Quinton Skinner, Star Tribune

“Lauren Yee’s Ching Chong Chinaman … is a smart, fast-paced comedy that wrings laughs from the topics of cultural identity and assimilation. Neither predictable nor politically correct, it’s a satirical cartoon that has heart and even occasional poignancy.” — Patrick Lee, TheaterMania

“Yee is a talented young writer, and the characters she’s created here are winning and lovable. … Yee’s voice is absolutely worth a listen; I will look forward to what she comes up with next.” — Martin Denton, nytheatre.com

“The one-liners come fast and furiously in this rollicking sendup as playwright Lauren Yee sets out to mock all major stereotypes. The whole effect is very funny, but below the humor are poignant issues related to identity.” — Nancy Worssam, Seattle Times

“[A] riotous farce… The sanctity of American, primarily though not exclusively Asian-American, cultural identities is skewered in this first production by the new LA theater group Artists at Play.” — Lyle Zimskind, LAist

“If you are in the mood for a smart and cheeky deconstruction of race in California today, look no further. This audacious satire … skewers clichés and bursts taboos from start to finish. … The San Francisco playwright also has a flair for irreverence that won’t quit.” — Karen D’Souza, San Jose Mercury News

“[O]ne of the livelier American plays to make it north of the border of late. A cheeky look at race in the United States, this wild and whirling satire is … funny and provocative… Yee cleverly takes on North American ethnic-identity confusion from all angles…” (3.5 out of 4 stars) — J. Kelly Nestruck, The Globe and Mail

Ching Chong Chinaman is a wildly inventive, raucously funny ride.  Though rooted in Asian American literary tradition, this play upends its conventions with inspired irreverence, aided by brilliant staging and a powerhouse ensemble.  You have not seen anything like this before.  The fourth wave of Asian American playwriting has arrived.” — David Henry Hwang



“Ms. Yee — a rising young dramatist whose earlier works include “Ching Chong Chinaman” — brings a courageous, childlike conviction to her fey land of make-believe. “ — Ben Brantley, New York Times

“[A] touchingly funny play… What makes The Hatmaker’s Wife a success is its dexterity and fluidity. Yee’s characters and story lines jump back and forth … between gut-laughter funny and hit-you-in-the-gut sad — and they do so with astounding truthfulness. … The play floats its viewers to shimmering highs and crashes them to devastating lows.” — Bethany Rickwald, TheaterMania

“[A]udaciously kooky… up-and-coming playwright Yee is interested in more than quirkiness. Her play’s surreal plot twists and idiosyncratic tone … serve to advance an unabashedly heartfelt message about the value of love and human relationships. … It’s a vision to which one can only tip the old chapeau.” — Celia Wren, Washington Post

“[A]n absurdist piece of fun. … [T]he Moxie production proves as satisfying and sweetly elusive … as Hetchman’s hat.” — Anne Marie Welsh, San Diego Union-Tribune

A Man, his Wife, and his Hat employs an endearing cast and surprisingly cohesive script to produce the feel-good absurdist hit of the year. … Playwright Lauren Yee’s script is brimming with earnest laughs, delivering a steady stream of priceless moments from beginning to end.” — Ren Ebel, UCSD Guardian

“[E]xceptionally entertaining… A Man, His Wife, and His Hat is a fine, original production that will have you laughing and thinking. It will linger in my memory for weeks and months to come.” (5 out of 5 stars) — Kim Moeller, DC Metro Theater Arts


“Yee’s funniest and, in some respects, most intriguing play since her breakthrough, Ching Chong Chinaman. … Beneath all the laughs is a yearning quest for connection and self-definition, struggling to break through the distractions of youth and digital immersion.” — Robert Hurwitt, San Francisco Chronicle

“Leave it playwright Lauren Yee to bring clear definition to the sub-genre ‘existential slasher comedy.’ … [A] fascinating world-premiere play from Encore Theatre Company that draws laughs from teen speak and the usual first year of college tropes but blends in a rich and disturbing examination of loss, responsibility, maturity and what it is to be a young woman in the 21st century.” — Chad Jones, Theater Dogs

Three out of Four Stars: “high-end gore with a progressive twist.” Hookman “…displays a sophisticated sense of how real-life horrors usually spring from the quotidian tasks of our everyday” — Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune

“I just think this is an incredibly smart piece about coming of age, and that in some ways the blood and gore is a metaphor for how painful it is to come from childhood into adulthood, and particularly for women. I would see it again…” — Kelly Kleiman, The Dueling Critics

“Using a movie genre that primarily appeals to young men, playwright Lauren Yee (whose work is also currently represented in Chicago at the Goodman Theatre) has crafted a cleverly bizarre, female-driven 75-minute one-act that focuses on the lives of four young women and one scary dude sporting a hook.” — Colin Douglas, Chicago Theatre Review

“[B]it by unsettling bit, “Hookman’’ deepens beyond satire into a surprisingly resonant psychodrama. … Yee has a knack for locating the absurdist humor, the poignancy, and the accidental truth in the interstices, elliptical fragments, uptalking, and outright non sequiturs of teen-speak.” — Don Aucoin, Boston Globe

“[N]othing short of magic. … Hookman is a singular experience.  Those unafraid of graphic violence will have a wonderfully dark, funny, and sobering good time.” — Gillian Daniels, New England Theatre Geek

in a word:

* NY Times Critic’s Pick: “[A] sad and breathless and often pretty funny play about the ways in which loss mangles our world and garbles our speech. … So make like a tree and root out a ticket.” — Alexis Soloski, New York Times

“The exciting young writer Lauren Yee finds similar riches in the holes within the words themselves. … [T]he pieces and performances grow together with an empathetic force and writerly dexterity that explain why the San Francisco native [Lauren Yee] is in increasing demand all over the country. … [U]nexpectedly gripping.” — Robert Hurwitt, San Francisco Chronicle

“The bewildering properties of guilt and bereavement register powerfully in the Hub production, which achieves an artful balance between dark comedy and eloquently understated drama.” — Celia Wren, Washington Post

“By the time you realize that you’ve been emotionally captured by in a word, the breathtaking drama now playing at The Hub Theatre in Fairfax, it is too late to escape. Not that you would want to. Because in a brief 80 minutes, the story spun by Playwright Lauren Yee and Director Matt Bassett is so intense, heartbreaking (and heartbreakingly funny), and ultimately theatrical, that you will be a bit dazzled at how cathartic the drama ends up being. ★★★★1/2″ — Michael Poandl, DC Metro Arts

“The Hub Theatre’s in a word combines a superb cast, flawless direction and a strong script to create a thoroughly compelling production.” — Pamela Roberts, Broadway World

“In the taut, emotionally harrowing 85 minutes that follow, however, you are also given the rare chance to savor the work of a talented wordsmith at the top of her game, whose intricately woven dialogue is delivered with impeccable timing and nuance by a highly talented cast. Lauren Yee’s in a word is a dramatist’s masterclass, an emotional roller-coaster of a play, and one that features some of the most stunning performances I’ve seen this season.” — Andrew White, MD Theatre Guide

in a word is – in a word – riveting. It’s also powerful, moving, funny – and extraordinarily well performed. The cast of three keeps the momentum going from first word to last, in an unusual – and quite superb – production.” — Gilly Lloyd, SF Examiner

“[An] enthralling new play… I was held spellbound for 80 minutes by the superb acting and Mamet-like dialogue. The three actors keep the momentum going from first word to last in this terrific production.”— Richard Connema, Talkin’ Broadway

“This is a complex and arresting journey through the words that we employ to clumsily deal with events that are clearly unspeakable.”— Christine Howey, Cleveland Scene

“[T]his production is a remarkably engaging and brilliantly orchestrated series of images. And it is surprisingly buoyant thanks to superb performers who have mastered the playwright’s complex wordplay and found the dark humor in the deepest recesses of this intriguing work.” — Bob Abelman, Cleveland Jewish News

“It is a play that sticks with you long after the lights have faded. Not to the ribs. But to the heart. And it lodges there more because of what isn’t said as much as what is said.”
— Joel Beers, OC Weekly

in a word is a stream-of-consciousness dramedy wherein Yee injects humor in the form of quips, jokes and remarks into the heart-pounding scenario. Absurdism and surrealism are among Yee’s tools in forging a play that induces within us the subjective reality experienced by Fiona and Guy.” — Eric Marchese, The OC Register

King of the Yees:

“[D]elightfully disorderly entertainment, as sprawling and silly as it is unexpectedly moving. … A cheeky playwright with a highly developed sense of the improbable, Lauren Yee brings her fable full circle with a touching coda about family heritage that may provoke unanticipated tears. … [S]he boldly wields her distinctively offbeat humor to connect us to our better selves.”— F. Kathleen Foley, LA Times

“You will, without any question, fall madly in love with Larry Yee, or more precisely, with Francis Jue, the wiry, wide-eyed, shrewdly comic, comically un-hip and altogether remarkable actor who plays him with such effortless guile. … Lauren Yee (the real-life playwright), and director Joshua Kahan Brody make it all perfectly clear, with the layers of reality and performance expertly (and often comically) interwoven.” — Chicago Sun Times

“A talented, smart and very funny writer… greatness surely lies ahead.” — Chicago Tribune

A Brilliant Joy Ride. Yee’s play is brilliant. The ebb and flow of her storytelling is a joy ride, packed with humor and a self-awareness that embraces the audience. The love for this production is unfailing; it’s in the writing, the directing, and the acting. Yee’s compassion, questions, and yearning become ours as the play opens doors within us.” — Performink

“Yee taps into larger ideas and questions of what it means to be authentically Chinese-American. Yet, at the same time, “King of the Yees” is a universal and personal play about grown children and the difficulties of connecting with their aging parents. … The comedy daringly keeps multiple plot and character plates spinning in the air [and] succeeds thanks to the fast-paced work of director Brody and his talented cast and crew…  the play ultimately packs an emotional punch.” — Daily Herald

“With two productions opening within a fortnight of each other at the Goodman and Steep Theatre respectively, it’s a good month to be Lauren Yee. … Mining her personal life as well as her rich imagination, “King of the Yees” is a freewheeling adventure that frequently acknowledges earthly concerns, framing them through a personal lens that becomes increasingly warped as we follow Yee down the rabbit hole of her conscience.” — New City Stage

“This writer displays a distinctive, keen-edged wit, a quirky and capacious imagination and a fresh, millennial vision of Asian America.” — Seattle Times

“The show, with its quick witty dialog goes to a delightful meta and eventually metaphysical place making it an absolute joy.” — Broadway World


✮✮✮✮ – Critics’ Pick — Time Out Chicago

A “savvy and affecting piece about modern reproduction. … the play’s playful style doesn’t diminish the weight of its substance. Yee, Bockley and their gung ho cast ensure every character … is fully drawn.” — Kris Vire, Time Out Chicago

“[G]enuinely moving… stick with this one. … there’s a throbbing play here with a bleeding heart and a laudable awareness of how we sometimes only get one shot at happiness or escape, and of how macroeconomics and geopolitics don’t always embrace personal need.” — Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune 

“[I]t is the conversation between surrogate mother and unborn child — some of it acerbic, some of it poignant, all of it hugely engaging — that shows Yee at her sparkling best.” — Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun-Times

“[A] stylish production from Single Carrot Theatre of Lauren Yee’s provocative comedy Samsara. … There’s a beguiling quality to much of the writing, a kinetic pull from the constant back and forth of perspectives. By the end of the 90-minute play — an end that proves quite substantive and subtly affecting — a lot of ground has been covered, a lot of questions raised.” — Tim Smith, Baltimore Sun

“★★★★★: Yee’s play is profoundly astonishing and leaves the mind spinning in a pleasant blur of experiences and provocative questions. … This is a rare gem of a theatrical production, fluently cohesive and emotionally articulate with striking performances contained within, a must-see this 2017 calendar year.” — Amanda N. Gunther, Theatre Bloom

“[A] fast-paced, comic-laced emotional story with a high energy cast. … Treat yourself to Samsara, an innovative show that explores the underbelly of surrogate pregnancies and couples that they aim to make happy.”— Jenna Jones, DC Metro Arts Guide

Samsara is hilarious and heart-wrenching. Single Carrot Theatre has pulled it off again. … [T]his company can make even the most traumatic of situations light-hearted and exceptionally entertaining.” — Raychel Harvey-Jones, MD Theatre Guide


“Playwright Lauren Yee unspools the history and the travails of this family in hints and shadows, allusions and illusions. She shows a deft hand at painting simple situations filled with complex relationships, and isn’t afraid to use humor — directed either outward at the mainstream culture or inward in self-deprecating glances.” — Dominic P. Papatola, Pioneer Press

“The portrayal of the Hmong family – the only Asians in town – works. …  [Yee] evokes, using dreams and hallucinatory flashbacks, the Hmong diaspora.” — John Olive, How Was The Show?

“Feisty… Yee’s ambitious drama… moves between the physical and the supernatural realms and between cultures… slippery stuff that director Fenster navigates with skill. … Tiger is a smart and sassy play.” — Rohan Preston, Star Tribune

The Tiger Among Us is an interesting, entertaining, and thought-provoking look at the immigrant experience in a typical American family.” — Cherry and Spoon


“Lauren Yee’s in a word in Her Own Words” — Theatre Bay Area (February 29, 2016)

” ‘Ching Chong Chinaman’ Play Defies Asian American Stereotypes” — DNAinfo (August 12, 2014)

“People You Should Know: Lauren Yee” — Visible Soul (February 2014)

“A Chat with Peter Friedman and David Margulies, Who Visit the Past in The Hatmaker’s Wife” — Playbill (September 9, 2013)

“In a Room to Talk” — Ben Brantley, New York Times (August 25, 2013)

“Tales from the O’Neill” — Playbill (July 11, 2013)

A Man, his Wife, and his Hat playwright interview — Jacqueline Lawton’s blog (April 4, 2013)

“Love Keeps You Grounded.” — Virginia Connection (March 28, 2013)

Ching Chong Chinaman preview article — Toronto NOW Magazine (March 14, 2013)

“Napa Valley Fest del Sole toasts classical, theater” — San Francisco Chronicle (July 11, 2012)

“Moxie tops off season with quirky ‘Hat’ play” — North County Times (April 5, 2012)

“Hold Onto Your Hat” — San Diego Union-Tribune (March 27, 2012)

“Hookman at BCA Calderwood Pavillion” — Dig Boston (March 21, 2012)

” ‘Hookman’ has an unexpected target” — Boston Globe (March 17, 2012)

“The Hookup” — Stuff Boston (December 26, 2011)

“Artists at Play Push Buttons with Ching Chong” — LA Stage Times (November 18, 2011)

“The play Ching Chong Chinaman challenges stereotypes with satire” — Daily Bruin (November 3, 2011)

“Mu Performing Arts publishes anthology of plays” — Minnesota Public Radio (June 16, 2011)

Ching Chong Chinaman playwright explains controversial title” — Wall Street Journal (April 4, 2010)

“Minority Views” — Backstage (April 1, 2010)

“Ching Chong Chinaman” — The International Examiner (March 17, 2010)

“I Interview Playwrights Part 130” — Adam Szymkowicz’s blog (March 14, 2010)

“Dramatist Guild Fellows” — The Dramatist (November/December 2009)

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