Lauren Yee

Author of Giving Up the Ghost (Quickies, 2010)

Originally from San Francisco, Lauren Yee has been a MacDowell Colony fellow, a Dramatists Guild fellow, and a member of the Public Theater Emerging Writers Group. She has been a finalist for the Djerassi Resident Artist Program, the Heideman Award, the Jerome Fellowship, the PONY Fellowship, and the Wasserstein Prize. Her play Ching Chong Chinaman was a finalist for the Princess Grace and Jane Chambers awards, and won Kumu Kahua Theatre’s Pacific Rim Prize. Named one of the top 10 plays by the East Bay Express and City Pages, the play has been produced at Berkeley’s Impact Theatre, Minneapolis’s Mu Performing Arts, the New York Fringe Festival, New York’s Pan Asian Rep, and Seattle’s SIS Productions. Lauren is currently writing a new play for AlterTheater (slated for production in 2011) and treatments for the Kennedy Center’s Heritage Project. The Bay Area Playwrights Festival, the O’Neill Studio, and PlayGround have previously commissioned her work. She has taught playwriting at the New York Mills Arts Center, Tao House, and UCSD. This summer she will attend the inaugural El Gouna Writers Residency along Egypt’s Red Sea and complete an observership at the O’Neill Conference. BA: Yale. MFA: UCSD.


Where did the idea for Giving Up the Ghost come from?
I wrote the play when I was just out of college and a little weirded out by not being attached to some trajectory-providing program.

What is your favorite moment in the play?
I kind of like it when Rob mentions how expensive condoms are in the real world, because I do feel like when we’re in college, we take the small things for granted.

Who is your current playwright talent crush?
Oh, so many. Hm. I’m from San Francisco, where there are so many talented, inventive writers. Here’s a couple of them: Erin Bregman, Eugenie Chan, Christopher Chen, Phillip Gotanda, Aaron Loeb, Peter Nachtrieb, Geetha Reddy, Octavio Solis, Jon Tracy, Enrique Urueta, Steve Yockey. I won’t even bother to tackle the rest of the country; I could be here all day long.

What advice would you give to aspiring playwrights?
Sleep with everyone. Which means, more literally, stayed engaged and active. Who’s doing theater around you and who do you want to work with?

What kind of theater do you love?
Theater that challenges the form and plays with language always interests me.

What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on Samsara, a new play about a childless American couple and the Indian surrogate they hire to carry their baby. It’s a whimsical journey through maternity in the 21st century and a lot of fun to write.

I also have a play in rehearsal for UCSD’s Baldwin New Play Festival called In a Word. (I’m part of UCSD’s MFA in playwriting program and each year, we put up full productions of new plays.) This play is pretty different for me–it jumps time and space, things and words disappear and reappear–so I’m anxious as to how an audience receives it.

Outside of theater, what are you really into right now?
Unusual and slightly useless arts and crafts. I just finished a glass fusing class (I literally have a bunch of useless glass titles sitting around my bedroom) and I might get back into embossing and cross stitch (two other highly useless arts and crafts). I have a bunch of things I’d like to do that I haven’t done. I’d like to go shooting since I feel that would be an entirely new experience. I’d like to cook a meal for other people (and have it not be inedible).

Do you have a favorite and least favorite word?
Invariably, in rehearsal, the word “faster” comes up a lot in my vocabulary.

Is there a question you would like to see posed to playwrights featured in future spotlights?
Best present ever? (given or received)