Ghosts of CHAN

A personal retrospective of a first-time theater director


For an optimal viewing experience, watch this 360° video on a virtual reality headset such as Google Cardboard with headphones or Oculus Rift. If viewing on a computer, drag your mouse around the video to rotate the 360° video. If viewing on a mobile device, launch the video in the YouTube app in order to activate the device’s rotational sensors.

I had the honor of directing the Stanford Asian American Theater Project’s winter 2018 play, “Charles Francis Chan Jr.’s Exotic Oriental Murder Mystery” by Lloyd Suh — commonly known as CHAN. As this was my first time directing a full-length play, I spent a long time processing my feelings and reactions, and this video is but an small slice of what is floating through my head.

The beauty of theater is its ephemerality. In the 360° video, you won’t see anything of the actual production itself — just time lapses of load-in (constructing the set in the space) and strike (deconstructing the set), along with footage of the CHAN team dancing as we take down the set. Strike is never a happy time; grueling hours of week coupled with the fact that our small family was about to part ways and we’d probably never all be in the same room at the same time ever again.

Yet the CHAN strike was joyous, meaningful, and memorable because we chose to savor our time together rather than reminisce on what would eventually be the past.

Contact Olivia Popp at oliviapopp ‘at’

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Olivia Popp previously served as Managing Editor of Arts & Life for two years and is a former Editor-at-Large for the Daily's Board of Directors. Find her online at and on Twitter: @itsoliviapopp.