You seem nervous. Are you worried about something? Unsettled maybe?
I usually am—worried about something—so yeah. I guess probably.
Just relax. You have nothing to worry about.
What do you write about?
Failure. Multiracial and hybrid identity. Fungus. Gestational surrogacy. Pandas. Genetically modified mosquitoes. Shame. Immigrant dads. Pregnancy and termination of. Neuroscience. Ancient Sumerian Kings. Buddhist principles. Gender. Schrodinger’s cat. Lobsters and their telomeres. Social Media. Relevance and meaning. The intersection of a lot of stuff.
So basically you’re a writer.
Wait, social media? Didn’t you tweet like two times in the last year, and update your Facebook status exactly once?
Wow. So do you even exist then?
…it’s a good question.
How are you writing about social media when you’re not even participating in it?
I’m intrigued by the power of social media, and the Great Anxiety it can produce in people like me who just don’t seem capable of seamlessly integrating it into their lives.
I don’t know if I’m missing some relevant gene, or if it’s just an extension of being shy.
Let’s move on. I noticed that your book, Lydia’s Funeral Video, is actually a “solo play”. So that’s like, what, a one-woman show or something?
It’s more of a play than a solo show, because—
But you wrote it for yourself to perform, right?
Yeah, but a long time ago—
So how is that not a solo show?
I guess it is. But the book, Lydia’s Funeral Video, is distinct from the piece as it was performed; in many ways it’s an adaptation of the live performance into printed form.
So isn’t any play that’s published an adaptation into printed form?
Yes, but thanks to my brilliant editor at Kaya, this project goes a little further in terms of adapting aspects of the live performance into printed matter. There are visual and textual elements that weren’t part of the original piece that interact with the script, and together have dimensionality in the way a live performance has its own dimensionality.
I’m still not getting why you won’t just admit this is a publication of a solo show.
Well—and while this isn’t actually the case—often people associate “solo show” with more autobiographical identity pieces—
So Lydia’s Funeral Video isn’t autobiographical?
No. It’s a play set in the not-so-distant future U.S., when abortion has been made illegal after twenty-eight days after conception, and the only regulated abortion provider is a for-profit venture that operates out of military vehicles repurposed as mobile clinics.
It’s about a neurotic San Francisco-based hapa woman in the process of terminating an unplanned pregnancy. Who also starts doing standup comedy, for some reason, at a coffee shop slash laundromat that has weekly standup open mics. No biographical details in common there, at all, with the writer?
Sure, the protagonist and I may share some superficial characteristics.
But she lives in the not-so-distant future. And her name is Lydia. So.
Were you as amazing at standup as the protagonist in the play is?
More amazing, actually. I was so good I had to just walk away.
So what’s the difference between this piece and the kind of work you’re doing these days?
These days I generally write plays for other people to perform.
How do you write?
Sometimes I start with a sort of collage, taking different ideas/characters/subjects/ texts that snag my attention and seem to go together for whatever reason, and putting them into conversation with one another, seeing what they say to each other, and collectively. And then from there I work toward finding the whole, exploring why and how they connect, what it is that’s drawing me in, what the story is.
I notice the play includes references to futuristic condoms.
So is there a lot of sex in the book?
There is so much sex.
Uh. well, you know, between the lines. The protagonist’s pregnant at the top of the show, so you can just imagine all the sex that was going on to get her there, you know what I mean?
If you’re talking about conceiving through a sexual act, it could take just the one single sexual act. Which isn’t a whole lot of sex.
It’s so much sex.
Can you tell me something that will endear you to us?
Um. My five-year-old daughter keeps interrupting me to ask when she can turn on Power Rangers. Whoa, she’s really cute. She just lost a tooth yesterday.
Shit. Does that make me endearing?
Sorry. I panicked.
Why are you afraid?
SAM CHANSE is a playwright and theater artist based in New York and California. A 2015 Sundance/Ucross Playwright Fellow, MacDowell Fellow, and member of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab, her solo play, Lydia’s Funeral Video, was published this year by Kaya Press.