'What You Are Now' by Sam Chanse ’12 Premieres at Ensemble Studio Theater

BY William Hutton, April 12, 2022

Still from What You Are Now by Sam Chanse '12

What You Are Now, a new play by alumna Sam Chanse ’12, has enjoyed a successful world premiere at Manhattan’s Ensemble Studio Theater. 


What You Are Now centers on Pia, a young researcher investigating how to heal the mind from traumatic memories. Her interest is also personal, entwined with her family’s history. When a figure from the past unexpectedly shows up, urging Pia’s mother to testify about her experiences during the violence of  1970s Cambodia, unresolved histories are brought to the surface. Pia must navigate a web of interconnected memories: her relationship, her brother Darany, and, most importantly, her mother Chantrea—making discoveries that will radically alter everyone’s lives in the present. 


Chanse’s thrilling new play was called “an affecting study of memory and migration” by The New York Times. In an artist's statement, Chanse writes, “I consider my plays to be deep dives into unfigureoutables, landing in unresolved, ambiguous places. My work explores intersections and collisions of race, gender, science and technology, and centers characters occupying some kind of marginal space.”


What You Are Now was directed by Steve Cosson, and featured Sonnie Brown, Curran Connor, Emma Kikue, Robert Lee Leng, and Pisay Pao. 


Sam Chanse is the author of plays including Trigger, Monument, or Four Sisters (Sloth Play), What You Are Now, The Opportunities of Extinction, Fruiting Bodies, The Other Instinct, Lydia’s Funeral Video, and Asian American Jesus. Her work has been developed and/or produced with the Lark, Ars Nova, the Civilians, Ensemble Studio Theater/Sloan Project, NAATCO, Magic Theatre, New York Stage 7 Film, Engarde Arts, Ma-Yi Theater, Cherry Lane, Leviathan Lab, Broken Nose, 24 Hour Plays, and the Ojai Playwrights’ Conference, and is published by Kaya Press (Lydia’s Funeral Video) and TCG (The Kilroys List).