Zhen Yu Yao is a Chinese multi-disciplinary artist based in NYC. He holds a MA in Arts Politics and a BFA in Drama from NYU Tisch, with a double major in Psychology. He is invested in creating and articulating a social and civic practice that is fundamentally engaged in the AAPI communities that he is connected to. He leverages theatre, film and visual arts disciplines to decolonize artmaking spaces, architect accessible dreamworlds and reject the totality of the “universal.” The tensions that surface in his projects are ultimately situated against the backdrop of the transnational, taking place both in New York and Shanghai (where he is originally from).
He is currently serving as the project manager for NYU Shanghai’s REALITY SHOW, a devised musical sketch comedy advocating health and wellness resources for incoming first years. His work also includes directing the first Mandarin production MAN OF LA MANCHA in the US at Symphony Space in May 2019, as well as building targeted student welcome programs, including PRECIPICE: THE ESCAPE ROOM EXPERIENCE for NYU Tisch in April 2019. He is currently writing a full-length play titled THE DESERT IS NOT A CIRCLE, which chronicles the Asian American experience leading up to the 2020 Election. In addition to theatre, he has created an online multimedia installation in 2020 that uses textual interventions to repatriate stolen artifacts exhibited at The Met. His projects have been seen at PlayStation Theatre, NYU Tisch, WOW Café Theatre and Shanghai Theatre Academy.
WINNER! — Best Actor at the Shanghai Student Film Festival (2016)
EARCOS Global Citizenship Award (2015)