Lauren Yee

Lauren Yee is an American playwright.

Lauren Yee
EducationYale University (BA)
University of California, San Diego (MFA)
Home townSan Francisco, California
SpouseZachery Zwillinger

Early life and educationEdit

Yee was born and raised in San Francisco, California. She is currently 34–35 years of age. (2020) She graduated from Lowell High School in 2003.[1]

Yee graduated from Yale University in 2007, majoring in English and Theatre Arts. She then attended University of California, San Diego's MFA playwriting program.[2]

Among Yee's biggest influences are her great-grandparents who migrated to America from China during the era when the Chinese Exclusion Act was in effect. To circumnavigate this they would migrate through Mexico across the Southern border to America and up to San Francisco. In addition, her father, Larry, inspired to her to write two plays, these being "The Great Leap," and "King of the Yees." Both of these plays draw directly from her Chinese American History.[3]


Yee is a member of the Ma-Yi Writers’ Lab [4] and a Playwrights’ Center Core Writer and has worked under commission from the Goodman Theatre, Lincoln Center, and Mixed Blood.[5]

In awarding the Whiting Award for 2019, the Selection Committee noted: "Her dialogue feels like overheard speech; even on the page, it asserts its vibrant, specific life...These plays feel ambitious and even monumental. They are also raucously funny, without ever losing sight of nuanced human experience."[6]

Personal lifeEdit

Yee married Zachary Zwillinger, an attorney, in September 2012 in San Francisco; the couple met at Yale.[7]


  • Ching Chong Chinaman (Berkeley Impact Theatre)
  • Crevice (Impact Theatre)
  • The Tiger Among Us (January - February 2013, Mu Performing Arts (Minneapolis) [8]
  • The Hatmakers Wife (developed at PlayPenn New Play Conference in 2011; August 27, 2013 - September 21, 2013, Off-Broadway Playwrights Horizons)[9]
  • Samsara (February 2015 - March 8, Chicago)[10]
  • in a word (April 2015, San Francisco Playhouse)[11]
  • Hookman (May 2015, Encore Theatre Company, San Francisco)[12]
  • King of the Yees (2015, The Goodman Theatre's New Stages Festival)[13]
  • The Great Leap (2018, Off-Broadway)[14]
  • Cambodian Rock Band (2018, South Coast Repertory)[15]
  • The Song of Summer (2019, Trinity Repertory Company)[16]

Awards and honorsEdit

(in reverse chronological order)



  • Horton Foote Prize for Outstanding New American Play for Cambodian Rock Band.[22]
  • Susan Smith Blackburn Prize finalist for The Great Leap[23]
  • Princeton University MacKall Gwinn Hodder Fellows for the 2018-2019 academic year.[24]



  • The Kilroys List Top 50 (for King of the Yees and The Tiger Among Us)
  • Susan Smith Blackburn nominee (for in a word)
  • The Chance Theatre playwright-in-residence[28]
  • Theatre Bay Area Award nominee – Outstanding World Premiere Play (for Hookman)


  • Lark Playwrights’ Week playwright (for The Tiger Among Us)
  • Constance Saltonstall Foundation residency Berkeley Rep Ground Floor finalist (for King of the Yees)
  • Leah Ryan Prize for Emerging Women Playwrights runner-up (for The Tiger Among Us)


  • O’Neill Conference playwright (for Samsara)[29]
  • Sundance Theatre Lab finalist (for in a word) Playwrights’ Center Core Writer (2013-2016)
  • Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation grant (with the Goodman Theatre, for King of the Yees)
  • Playwrights Realm Page One resident playwright
  • Second Stage Theatre – Shank playwright-in-residence
  • UCross Foundation residency
  • L. Arnold Weissberger Award nominee (for Samsara)
  • Gerbode Foundation Playwright Commissioning Award (with Encore Theatre Company)


  • Susan Smith Blackburn Prize nominee (for Samsara)
  • Bay Area Playwrights Festival winner (for Samsara)
  • Ma-Yi Writers Lab playwright (2012–present) PEN USA Literary Award for Drama finalist (for A Man, his Wife, and his Hat)
  • Time Warner fellow at the Women's Project Playwrights Lab
  • Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle nominee (for Crevice)
  • Kitchen Dog Theatre's New Works Festival winner (for A Man, his Wife, and his Hat)
  • East West Players’ Face of the Future Playwriting Competition third place (for Samsara)
  • Aurora Theatre Global Age Project finalist (for in a word)


  • PlayPenn Conference playwright (for A Man, his Wife, and his Hat)
  • KCACTF's Paul Stephen Lim Playwriting Award winner (for in a word)
  • KCACTF's Jean Kennedy Smith Playwriting Award winner (for in a word)
  • IICAS Student Research Travel Grant recipient (for Mu Performing Arts commission)


  • MAP Fund grantee (with Mu Performing Arts)
  • Hangar Theater Lab Company playwright-in-residence (for in a word)
  • Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Paula Vogel Award in Playwriting (for Ching Chong Chinaman)[30]
  • El Gouna Writers’ Residency fellow


  • MacDowell Colony fellow
  • Public Theater Emerging Writers Group member
  • Theatre Bay Area New Works Fund commission (with AlterTheater)
  • Wasserstein Prize finalist PONY Fellowship finalist
  • Jerome Fellowship finalist (selected)
  • American Antiquarian Society – Robert and Charlotte Baron fellow
  • Hawthornden Castle International Retreat for Writers fellow
  • 2008 Princess Grace Award finalist (for Ching Chong Chinaman)
  • Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation grantee Dramatists Guild fellow New York Mills Arts Retreat writer-in-residence
  • Edward F. Albee Foundation fellow PlayGround June Anne Baker Prize winner/commission (for Crevice)


  • Kumu Kahua Theatre Pacific Rim Prize winner (for Ching Chong Chinaman)[31]


  1. ^ Xie, Jocelyn. "Lowell Alumna, First Chinese-American playwright to win Kesselring Prize". The Lowell. Retrieved 2019-10-30.
  2. ^ Chen, Teresa. "Lauren Yee: Making the Invisible Visible", December 11, 2015
  3. ^ February 26, Lily Janiak; March 27, 2019 Updated; 2019; Pm, 2:34. "Lauren Yee reaps theatrical riches from family lore". Datebook | San Francisco Arts & Entertainment Guide. Retrieved 2019-12-13.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ "Lauren Yee Biography", retrieved January 30, 2018
  5. ^ Lauren Yee Archived 2016-05-23 at the Wayback Machine AO International, retrieved May 09, 2016
  6. ^ "Lauren Yee", accessed March 26, 2019
  7. ^ "Lauren Yee, Zachary Zwillinger" The New York Times, September 23, 2012
  8. ^ Papatola, Dominic P. "Theater review: ‘The Tiger Among Us’ is a sturdy creature", January 27, 2013
  9. ^ Purcell, Cary. " 'The Hatmaker's Wife', Featuring David Margulies, Peter Friedman and Marcia Jean Kurtz, Opens Sept. 5" playbill, September 5, 2013
  10. ^ Jones, Chris. "Review: 'Samsara' at Victory Gardens Biograph Theatre" Chicago Tribune, February 15, 2015
  11. ^ Hurwitt, Robert. "Lauren Yee finds the drama 'In a Word’", April 7, 2015
  12. ^ Hurwitt, Robert. "Lauren Yee’s slasher satire is razor-sharp", May 11, 2015
  13. ^ Malitz, Nancy. "At Goodman’s New Stages Festival, playwrights count on sharpening assist from the audience", November 12, 2015
  14. ^ The Great Leap, retrieved January 30, 2018
  15. ^ Gray, Margaret. "Joy, heartbreak and psychedelic surf rock power a fierce, funny 'Cambodian Rock Band'" Los Angeles Times, March 16, 2018
  16. ^ The Song of Summer, retrieved March 27, 2019
  17. ^ "Playwright Lauren Yee has won over $400,000 in literary prizes in 2019". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2019-10-30.
  18. ^ Clement, Olivia. "Jackie Sibblies Drury and Lauren Yee Are Winners of Steinberg Playwright Awards" Playbill, October 9, 2019
  19. ^ "Lauren Yee Wins Steinberg ATCA Award for Cambodian Rock Band", April 6, 2019
  20. ^ Clement, Olivia. "Michael R. Jackson and Lauren Yee Named 2019 Whiting Award Winners" playbill, March 26, 2019
  21. ^ Clement, Olivia. "Signature Theatre Welcomes 5 New Residents" playbill, March 28, 2019
  22. ^ Libbey, Peter (2018-09-04). "Lauren Yee and Jaclyn Backhaus Win Horton Foote Prize for Plays". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-11-01.
  23. ^ Clement, Olivia. "Aleshea Harris’ 'Is God Is', Lauren Yee’s 'The Great Leap', and More Named Finalists for Susan Smith Blackburn Prize" Playbill, January 29, 2018
  24. ^ "Fellowships are awarded to Martyna Majok, Mario Moore, Okwui Okpokwasili, Jacob Shores-Argüello, and Lauren Yee", December 14, 2017
  25. ^ Brueckner, Laura. "Theatre Bay Area Announces Glickman Award Winner Lauren Yee for 'In a Word' at SF Playhouse", February 8, 2016
  26. ^ "Women’s Invitational 2016 Winners", retrieved January 30, 2018
  27. ^ "Lauren Yee Wins $10000 Francesca Primus Prize for 2016", March 15, 2017
  28. ^ "Meet Lauren Yee, our 2015 resident playwright", February 25, 2015
  29. ^ "2013 National Playwrights Conference", retrieved January 30, 2018
  30. ^ "The Paula Vogel Award in Playwriting", retrieved January 30, 2018
  31. ^ "Lauren Yee". Playwrights' Center. Retrieved 2016-05-09.

External linksEdit