Susanna has worked in many facets of the arts and in particular in theatre for three decades. She started her career as a young ballet dancer, studying with Ruth Carse and the then newly-born Alberta Ballet. As a young artist, Susanna married, moved to British Columbia and had two beautiful children.
In the Northern Interior city of Prince George, she taught dance, danced in a number of productions of The Nutcracker, became involved in the local theatre scene, performed and directed with Theatre Northwest, The Prince George Playhouse, formed the theatre troupe Le Gas Workshop and directed/produced full seasons as a partner in the Centre Stage Dinner Theatre. She also developed the first dance/theatre/voice program for the Child Development Centre in Prince George and went on to give theatre classes for a number of societies including the Prince George Youth Containment Centre and the Elizabeth Frye Society. Mindflights, a production she directed and collaboratively wrote with the Elizabeth Frye Society, toured BC and went on to win the Special Adjudicators Award at the BC Zone Festival for Original Production. She also won awards for her direction of David Ives Universal Language and Kevin Kerr’s UNITY (1918).
Moving with her daughter to the Lower Mainland, Susanna pursued her theatre career by completing her BFA in theatre studies at the SFU School for Contemporary Arts. Susanna further studied with the National Voice Intensive at UBC, with Richard Armstrong at the Banff Centre for the Arts and with Anne Bogart and Siti Theatre in New York.
As Artistic Director with Theatre Terrific since 2004, Susanna has had the honor of writing, directing and producing over 20 professional, community and Fringe Festival theatre works for the company, has taught numerous classes and workshops, has hired local and national respected theatre professionals to teach and was instrumental in acquiring Theatre Terrific’s administrative office in the newly renovated Woodwards Heritage Building. Also, for their work with voice, Susanna along with composer James Coomber garnered the nightswimming research award from SFU School for Contemporary Arts and Nightswimming Theatre in Toronto in 2011.
Susanna brings a deep familiarity and passion to working with actors of ‘all abilities.’ She credits her daughter, who lives with cognitive and speech challenges due to brain damage, as one of her most profound teachers. Raising her to become the independent, working and creative young woman she is today, Susanna discovered how to communicate in a much broader sense than speech only, became highly sensitive to the three-dimensional communication qualities of the body and discovered a vast array of creative expression that is unique, profound and of enormous artistic value.
All of the above has further nurtured Susanna’s vision to validate the voice of artists of all abilities by giving them the respect of challenge, by demanding virtuosity and authenticity. She brings together artists who would normally never have the opportunity to know, work and create together in classes and in productions. As a result of establishing a solid skilled working theatre ensemble for every production, the plays that Theatre Terrific produces are riveting, unique, authentic, humorous, dramatic and of the highest possible standard. They present universal humanity on the stage–a humanity that includes us ‘all’ as members of the great unfolding continuum that is the human story.
Theatre Terrific’s work has been discussed at length in UBC theatre professor Kirsty Johnston’s recent book, Stage Turns: Canadian Disability Theatre, published by McGill-Queen’s University Press in 2012. Speaking directly about Theatre Terrific’s productions and work process, Professor Johnston states that Theatre Terrific “contributes to a growing body of scholarship and theatre practice that interrogates and re-imagines the place of disability in Western theatre.” She further writes that disability art is in the business of “re-imagining disability as a valued human condition.”
Susanna pursues her work with Theatre Terrific with passion, rigor, insight, humility, wonder and great joy.