SUSAN BARRETT opens this week in Soundview Summer, a daring work that takes a personal look at the after-effects of nuclear exposure. Ms. Barrett had some interesting takes on everything from being an artist, to being funny, to being in Indie Theater … if that still exists!
Tell us about yourself as an artist?
I’m Susan Barrett, and I play Cathy in Soundview Summer. I’m a comedic character actor who really enjoys transforming into characters to the point where I am unrecognizable on stage. A few years ago, I did an all female production of Othello. We actually played the male roles as men with lots of facial hair, transformed the way we walked and talked. I was overjoyed at our opening night party when someone came up to me and said, did you see the show, who do you know in it? And, I was able to say I WAS IN IT! When people don’t have a clue it is me off stage, that really feels gratifying. Those types of projects are what I am drawn to the most. Also, outlandish comedy with lots of improv. However, I love developing new works, like Soundview Summer, with playwrights, and just working on good stories, and well written plays, whether it be comedy or drama. I really enjoy making folks laugh, so comedy is my “go to,” but it’s also nice to portray a serious drama where hopefully what I bring to a role can help to ignite something in someone in the audience. If I reach some person in some way as an actor, and tell the story well, then I know I have done my job. I also love the medium of television and film. It’s really quite a privilege to get to do what we do as artist’s.
What do you hope to convey to your audience regarding this powerful topic?
This question is a challenging one for me. My character Cathy, doesn’t comment at all about the topic. She simply plays an important relationship in the story with the main character at a transitional time in his life. Cathy pops in and out very quickly near the end of the play, and is very “slice of life.” I hope the audience finds her relationship with Billy refreshing and fun as she adds a bit of levity to the story. We get to see a different side of Billy with Cathy as both their lives progress forward.
Do you feel a stronger sense of responsibility when the subject matter is so serious?
Again, difficult for me to comment on this particular question because my character Cathy isn’t really effected directly by the subject matter. Since the play is not really about her journey, and we only get to see a glimpse of her life with Billy, I would say that perhaps there is more of a strong sense of building a lasting relationship where two people come together by circumstance to teach each other a lesson, and to help and aid one another at a particular cross roads in their lives. That alone in telling the story is a strong sense of responsibility. I think just telling any characters story is a strong sense of responsibility, no matter what the subject matter is.
Tell us your feelings on Indie Theater?
That’s an interesting question! I’m not sure Indie Theater still exists, at least not how it did, or the way I knew it in NYC in the 80’s up to around 2008. So many great companies (some of which I was a part of) have had to close their doors. Even the Fringe Festival has taken a hiatus. It makes me very sad to have seen that occur as NY has changed so much in the last decade. So, I say Bravo and Kudos to anyone who is able to continue to produce, develop and bring new works to the forefront, and continue to create on ANY level. It’s so important to keep ALL of The Arts going, no matter way, and to be able to express, create and tell valuable stories through any medium in this crazy unsettled climate we are now living in. We can’t stop making a positive impact on the world!
If you find out before I do, please let me know! LOL! Actually, I shot an episode of Shades Of Blue opposite Jennifer Lopez over the summer, and that should be airing on television mid-season, sometime after January. My goal is to continue to work more in film and tv, and work towards a recurring role on a series, so if anybody with any influence out there is reading this, please keep me in mind. Again, LOL! I was fortunate enough recently to audition for a recurring role on a new Showtime series that shoots in late December, so here’s hoping….working on remaining faithful, and taking it one day at a time. Also, I am teaching again, and would really enjoy focusing on coaching younger actors, and doing more teaching artist residency work.