Our resident blogger, Heather Osteraa, decided to catch up with the director and cast of “Dear Elizabeth”. Here’s what she found out!


Susanne Burns, Director

How long have you been directing professionally?

For about 10 years.

How did you discover you wanted to direct?

When I was in undergrad for acting.  I took a directing class and found I had an affinity for it and I haven’t looked back.

When did you first start working with The Western Stage?

I started as an intern for Melissa Chin-Parker in 1996.  Worked for her for about 2 years and then went off to undergrad and grad school. Came back in 2007 till 2015.

What do you hope people will get out of “Dear Elizabeth?”

“Sometimes it seems…as though only intelligent people are stupid enough to fall in love & only stupid people are intelligent enough to let themselves be loved.”—Elizabeth Bishop, from her notebook.

What has been the most challenging aspect about this project?

No challenge at all really.  John and Rosemary are amazing actors and we have an amazing text.  So things are in harmony.

If you could have a letter exchange with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?

Wole Soyinka is a Nigerian playwright, poet, author, teacher and political activist who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986. I worked with Wole at UNLV as his assistant director and I learned so much from him.  I would love to exchange banter with him again.

Favorite breakfast food?

Egggggggs!

Any hidden talents?

I have no hidden talents. My talents are all out there for everyone to see.

 

Rosemary Luke, playing the role of Elizabeth Bishop

How long have you been acting professionally?

I’m not a “professional” but I’ve been acting off and on most of my adult life.

How did you discover you wanted to be an actor?

I felt inhibited in my real life and turned to theatre to try to free myself.  Guess what?  It worked!

When did you first start working with The Western Stage?

So long ago I don’t remember.

What do you hope people will get out of “Dear Elizabeth?”

The lack of ego in friendship and the beauty of Bishop and Lowell’s poetry.

What has been the most challenging aspect about this project?

Not caving into my doubts or fears.

If you could have a letter exchange with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?

Martin O’Malley, former governor of Maryland

Favorite breakfast food?

Black tea with milk and yummy scones

Any hidden talents?

Blowing bubbles.

 

John Newkirk, playing the role of Robert Lowell

How long have you been acting?

55 years.

How did you discover you wanted to be an actor?

My kindergarten class put on “Peter Pan” and I got to be Captain Hook. It was love ever since.

When did you first start working with The Western Stage?

My first production was “The Pajama Game” in 1996 and a couple years later I played Sid Serokin in “Follies” a couple years later.

What do you hope people will get out of “Dear Elizabeth?”

Because it’s about real historical figures, I hope audiences will feel a connection to these famous, talented, crazy people.

What has been the most challenging aspect about this project?

Finding rehearsal time!

If you could have a letter exchange with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?

Lawrence Olivier. I think he understood the craft extremely well and I’d love to ask him about that.

Favorite breakfast food?

Granola.

Any hidden talents?

 I’m a Chef.

 

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