Sam Chanse

Plays by Sam Chanse



Fruiting Bodies (2M, 2W) – Mush (Michelle) is on a mission to decontextualize celebrities because the world needs an intervention. Her tech-oriented sister Vicky is convinced apps will save us. Their semi-estranged dad Ben is really into fungi. When a routine mushroom-hunting expedition goes awry, the three of them wind up in a fog-enveloped forest with a mysterious young boy, and together they search for the road back to Vicky’s precious Tesla. Can they find their way in the face of limited visibility, a preoccupation with an absent brother, the interfamilial politics of race and gender, and no wifi?

The Other Instinct (5W, 1M) – In a clinic in Gujarat, India, Tara serves as one of the many gestational surrogates navigating heavily circumscribed lives of video monitoring, daily injections, crowded dormitories, and restricted mobility. Thousands of miles away, in California, U.S.A., Denise tracks the pregnancy, clinging to every image, email, and Skype call that can connect her to the growing life in Tara’s body. Both women are determined to realize their dreams in a rapidly changing world, but complications only intensify as a deeply personal experience becomes a global transaction. Will surrogacy deliver for them?

What You Are Now (1M, 3W) – Pia has a professional interest in fear and memory; they constitute the focus of her research as a not-entirely-fulfilled neuroscience postdoc. But the return of an old acquaintance forces her to confront her family’s history, and a past that is relentlessly and ruthlessly tangled with the present.

The Opportunities of Extinction (1M, 2W) – Confronted with a crisis at home, an embattled couple takes refuge in the desert, where they meet a young woman studying the impact of climate change on the endangered Joshua tree. The world is heating up, buried conflicts surface and unspool, and what does it mean to survive in the face of annihilation.


Sam Chanse is a writer based in New York and California. Her work includes Fruiting Bodies (Ma-Yi Labfest, The Claque, The Lark, Labyrinth Theater Summer Intensive, 2015 Kilroys List), The Other Instinct (Playwrights Realm Writing Fellowship, INK’D Festival, BAPF 2015 Finalist), gilgamesh & the mosquito (with Bob Kelly; Yale Institute of Music Theatre, NYU Collaborative Development and Production Series), Lobsters Live Forever (with Bob Kelly; Leviathan Lab, Overtures), about that whole dying thing (Ars Nova’s ANT Fest, Kearny Street Workshop, Bindlestiff Studio), Lydia’s Funeral Video (FringeNYC, The Marsh, the Dark Room, published by Kaya Press), and Asian American Jesus (with Yasmine Gomez; Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, Disorient Film Festival, Boston Asian American Film Festival). She was awarded residencies at Ucross, Macdowell, the Lark, Tofte Lake Center, and Djerassi; commissions include Ensemble Studio Theatre/Sloan, Ma-Yi/the Flea, Second Generation, Leviathan Lab, and the San Francisco Arts Commission. She is a Sundance/Ucross Playwright Fellow, MacDowell Fellow, and 2015-16 Playwrights Realm Writing Fellow, and a member of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab, Ars Nova’s Play Group, and the Civilians R&D group. She received her MFA in playwriting from Columbia University, and in musical theater writing from NYU. Current works-in-progress include Delivery, through the Playwrights Realm Writing Fellows program, and an EST/Sloan commission. For some years in the aughts, when she was also in a band and did standup comedy, she served as artistic director of San Francisco-based arts nonprofit Kearny Street Workshop, and as co-director of Locus Arts. She is a fan of biocoastal artist salon series Laundry Party.