© 2017 By Yan Li. Proudly created with Wix.com

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Feel like I'm always knowing-what-to-do-with-one-arm away from looking cool.


Yan (rhymes with 'gingerbread man') was born in China and spent his childhood among the movie lots of Beijing where he originated such meaty roles as "Watermelon Eating Kid #2" and "Accidentally Looking Into Camera During a Walk-by". Pre-puberty, he moved to the Canadian prairies and learned how to tame llamas, then over to the West Coast where he learned not to care about stuff.

Yan began (that also rhymes) tickling ivories at age 3- not because he loved music but because he was told to. His parents had heard that music lessons increased a child's aptitude for more upstanding work like account management or bottle making. Irony. He received his BA in Composition & Theory from the University of Victoria, then was awarded a Tisch Fellowship and received his MFA in Musical Theatre Writing from NYU. Now based in New York City, Yan continues to hippie it up with the music and theatre communities who use Venmo and keep the sriracha industry afloat.

As a writer, Yan's tastes tend toward the odd, the visceral, the intricate, and folk/country. Basically all the buzzwords you'd use to intimidate your ex girlfriend's new boyfriend at the church raffle (he's a first responder, so). Yan's work has been performed at 59E59, Signature Theatre, the O'Neill Center, NYMF, 54 Below, West End Theatre, Goodspeed Opera House, Dartmouth College, Irondale Center, the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, the Duplex, Pearl Theatre, New York SongSpace, Symphony Space, the Toronto Fringe Festival, Figurteateret, and other alcohol-serving establishments. With his wonderful collaborators, he has been commissioned by Pacific Opera Victoria, Acting Up Stage, Prospect Theater Company, Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre, Wakka Wakka Productions, and Leviathan Lab, among others. Yan is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild of America, the Asian American Composers, Lyricists, and Librettists Project (AACLP), the Society of Composers, Authors, and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN), and a Founding Artist of Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre.

Yan's work as music director has involved professional, amateur, educational, corporate, and children's theatre productions. He has performed with classical, jazz, rock, theatre, choral, and world music artists on 4 continents (not including Antarctica; if so, that total would still be 4). He especially enjoys working on new pieces and is committed to fully representing the intentions of the writers in performance. Yan's experiences working in education include several performing arts schools, colleges, camps, and summer intensives. He created a theatre arts curriculum over 6 months at Olashore International School in Nigeria. Moreover (what a weird word) he is a guest instructor at NYU, the Chautauqua Institute, and the Herbert Berghof Studio. Yan has also worked with both visually and aurally impaired performers in creating powerful new work.


When ecumenically allowable, he has been known to crack a joke*

*even two 

a balanced observation using thoughts