Second-year Core Writer Lauren Yee is at the Playwrights’ Center this week, workshopping her play King of the Yees with director Randy Reyes and actors Francis Jue, Katie Bradley, Kurt Kwan, Francesca McKenzie, and Eric Sharp. We asked Lauren a few questions.
Tell us about King of the Yees.
King of the Yees is a play about me, my father, and the death of Chinatowns across America. It’s a study on culturally specific institutions and communities, and what happens when places like Chinatown outlive their initial purpose. It’s part-autobiographical, part-fictional Alice in Wonderland. I am terrified and thrilled to be writing it. It’s also a commission from the Goodman Theatre, which means I get to think about the play with the folks there. And I’m really excited about that.
How has 2015 been going?
I’ve gotten to see two of my plays, In a Word and Samsara, in production. These are plays that I’d been working on for a while, and it’s simultaneously strange and rewarding to be working on productions for plays that originated so long ago. The shows also allow me to spend some time in different theater communities, like Chicago and Cleveland, which I always love.
What is your writing process like?
I write a lot. I write quickly. And then I throw a lot of it away. I’ve always wanted to be one of those writers who knows what they’re writing right off the bat and gets it done in a couple drafts, but for better or worse, that's just not how my mind operates. I seem to need time to wander. I also am most successful when I allow myself to follow my impulses, even when I don’t know where the writing is leading me.