Yew's plays include As if He Hears; Porcelain; A Language of Their Own; Red; A Beautiful Country; Wonderland; Question 27, Question 28; Long Season; and Visible Cities. His adaptations include A Winter People (based on Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard) and Federico García Lorca's The House of Bernarda Alba. In 1989, the government in Singapore banned his first play As If He Hears because the gay character acted "too sympathetic and too straight-looking". Chay Yew's plays appear in numerous anthologies and are published by Grove Press. He is presently editing an anthology of contemporary Asian American plays, "Version 3.0," for TCG Publications.
Yew was the director of the Mark Taper Forum's Asian Theatre Workshop for 10 years. As of 2007 he serves on the board of directors of Theatre Communications Group. He also serves on the Executive Board of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.
Yew's plays have been produced by many theaters, including the New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theater in New York City, Royal Court in London, Mark Taper Forum, Manhattan Theatre Club, Wilma Theatre, Long Wharf Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, Intiman Theatre, Portland Center Stage, East West Players, Cornerstone Theatre Company, Perseverance Theatre, Dad's Garage, Singapore Repertory Theatre, Celebration Theatre and TheatreWorks Singapore. He is also the recipient of the London Fringe Award for Best Playwright and Best Play, George and Elisabeth Marton Playwriting Award, GLAAD Media Award, APGF Community Visibility Award, Made in America Award, AEA/SAG/AFTRA 2004 Diversity Honor, and Robert Chesley Award; he has also received grants from the Rockefeller MAP, McKnight Foundation and the TCG/Pew National Residency Program. His plays are published by Grove Press.
As a director, Chay Yew has directed plays at the Public Theater, New York Theatre Workshop, American Conservatory Theatre, Kennedy Center, Long Wharf Theatre, Mark Taper Forum, East West Players, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Goodman Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse, Portland Center Stage, Geva Theatre Center, Empty Space, National Asian American Theatre Company, Laguna Playhouse, Theatre at Boston Court, Gala Hispanic Theatre, Singapore Repertory Theatre, Ma-Yi Theatre Company, Cornerstone Theatre Company, Northwest Asian American Theatre, Walk and Squawk, Highways Performance Space, Pillsbury Playhouse, Smithsonian Institution and Theatre Rhinoceros. His productions have included such performers as Daniel Dae Kim, Amy Hill, Dennis Dun, Tamlyn Tomita, Sandra Tsing Loh, Margaret Cho, Rha Goddess and Brian Freeman. He also directed the world premieres of David Henry Hwang's and Osvaldo Golijov's Ainadamar at the Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music and Rob Zuidam's Rage D'Amors (Tanglewood).
In 2006, Yew participated in The Collision Project at The Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia.
Yew has directed numerous productions by other writers, including Naomi Iizuka's plays, "Strike-Slip" at Actors Theatre of Louisville/Humana Festival and "Citizen 13559" at the Kennedy Center; and Julia Cho's Durango at the Public Theater and Long Wharf Theatre.
Chay Yew is the recipient of the 2007 OBIE Award for Direction.