See Susan as Portia and many other characters March 4th-April 3rd by reserving your tickets here: http://greenhousetheater.org/julius-caesar/
If the race and gender equality conversation going on in the Chicago theatre community (and the greater arts community in general) is not on your radar, it’s possible that your home is somewhere under a rock. With that in mind, I am excited to be a part of JULIUS CAESAR for many reasons. The cast consists of immensely talented and kindhearted people, the ones you learn from by simply watching. Lavina is every bit as smart and wholly bad ass as the reputation that precedes her. The administrative minds behind Brown Paper Box Co. are effortlessly on top of their shit. (Ooooh, she said “shiiiiit.”) And. You guys. AND. I get to play boy parts in this show, and I don’t even have to pretend to be one!
Even still, it’s odd how easy it has been for me to embrace the given circumstances of our world on an emotional level, yet fight it with every bit of my physical and intellectual being. As we started putting the show on its feet, I would constantly ask myself, “Okay, Suze McGuze, how would this man walk? Where does he carry his weight? What is his vocal quality? He’s a strong soldier after all.” Needless to say, the results left me frustrated. This is partially because my favorite pastime is being grossly hard on myself and because I was being a liar, liar pants on fire. Guess what, dudes? I’m not a boy, not yet a man. In fact, I’m every bit woman.
A common thread in the smorgasbord of acting classes, videos, blogs, podcasts and books I’ve been exposed to is honesty. Be honest. Be present. Be yourself. You’re enough. The list of mantras go on. These viewpoints exist because when an individual is being totally honest on stage and with their acting partner, it often leads to a captivating vulnerability. It’s magic, or science, or both! So, there I was, wiping my rear-end with this ScienceMagic and all because I wanted to make sure the audience would understand that any given character I may be playing was a strong, dedicated soldier who would die for the good of their country.
SPOILER ALERT: people die in this play.
Hopefully, it’s taken you less time than me to realize that neither strength, passion, nor dedication have anything to do with gender. Once I came around to this notion, I naturally found myself adjusting from imitating a man to one of defining who the person is that goes to war for her country. What are her motivations, what has gotten her to this place, what was her childhood like and why does succeeding matter to her.
We’re a little less than a week away from tech, and I still find myself struggling with this mindset. It’ll probably be present throughout the run and as we start sharing our version of this world with an audience. Some people may dig it and some may not. I hope it’s a healthy mix of both. Regardless, I’m thrilled at the opportunity to step into the shoes of the various ladies I play in this show—some who were written as ladies to begin with and some who weren’t. They’re each strong, wonderful, and sometimes vulnerable in their own way. And they’re mine.
Susan's favorite Chicago credits include A Midsummer Night's Dream with Chicago Shakes (Helena/Titania US); Brewed (Roxette), Matawan (shark), Facing Angela (Torn Angela) all with The Ruckus; Ride Down Mt. Morgan (Bessie) with Redtwist Theatre; Titus Andronicus (Lavinia), Marat/Sade (Inmate) and Pretty Penny (Crystal) all with The Right Brain Project, Fractured Fairy Tales (various), A Christmas Carol (Martha), The Giver (Mom) all with Great Works Touring Theatre, and The Young Playwright's Festival (Glinda/Betty) with Pegasus Theatre. Susan received her B.A. in Theatre from Florida State University in 2008. She is a proud company member of The Ruckus and is represented by the wonderful folks at Big Mouth Talent. www.susanmyburgh.com
When I wasn't munching on Twizzler bits or figuring out which Instagram filter looked best against T.J.'s curly locks (pictures can be found below), I found myself enthralled & moved by 2/22's designer run of JULIUS CAESAR.
For the first time ever, one of BPBCo.'s shows is under the direction of a non-member's watchful eye. But heck, Lavina Jadhwani's eyes are more than watchful. They're keen, laser-focused, and bringing many new and exciting takes to the classic text. She and her team are creating an evening of insightful theatre with several exciting BPBCo. firsts:
- Mark Antony and Julius Caesar as women. Classic text pops with modern weight and importance. New social insight is illuminated as new triangles of love, trust, and betrayal are formed.
- 8 actors tackling 35+ characters. I can't. I just can't. How they do it is a mystery. An awe-inspiring mystery.
- It's an election year. Bernie, Ted, Hillary, Donald .... Mark Anthony, and Brutus.
- Vahishta Vafadari & Tyler Esselman's fight choreography. Even at a safely-paced 50% during the run, Vah and Tyler's fight design is spot-on. Scary, story-driven, and respectfully handled by the cast.
- On-stage seating. Lavina's cutting of this production of JULIUS CAESAR was new to me, so I wanted to be as surprised & immersed as possible, so I took advantage of 1 of our 8 on-stage seats. Fantastic opportunity to be up in the action without sacrificing sight-lines or feeling like you're apart of any kind of audience participation.
Couldn't be more excited to share this story, in this fashion, with these artists, this year with you all. Hope to see you at the Greenhouse Theater Center March 4 through April 3!
M. William Panek
Only 2 weeks to get your tickets to the opening of this special production of JULIUS CAESAR. Industry, student and group sales available for all performances.
“My goal with this production, and with casting a female Caesar and Antony, is to ask questions about how we support female leaders in a male-dominated political system. I think it is particularly relevant in this upcoming election cycle. It's a great debate play, and the fact that the story is so well known makes it extremely accessible. I think the gender-conscious casting of this production will result in a play that is a very exciting conversation starter for Brown Paper Box Co's audiences.” - Guest Director, Lavina Jadhwani
Tickets available now! http://greenhousetheater.org/julius-caesar/
MARCH 4TH - APRIL 3RD, 2016 #ForRome #ChIdesofMarch
For the first time in Chicago, Brown Paper Box Co. Presents
Now. Here. This.
Music & Lyrics by Jeff Bowen
Book by Hunter Bell & Susan Blackwell
Directed by M. William Panek*
Musical Directed by T.J. Anderson*
July 22 – August 21, 2016
From the award-winning writing team that brought you [title of show], Now. Here. This. is a new musical tackling life's big questions with humor and humanity. In its Chicago premiere, the show follows the evolution and adventures of four friends in a natural history museum as they journey through time - from the present day museum, to their formative pasts, and back again. Inspired by various exhibits, the foursome share stories about friendship, hoarding, roller coasters, dying, middle school, and Archer the security guard in an attempt to step from the past into that elusive present moment…into the Now. Here. This.
“The chance to follow up [title of show] with Now. Here. This. is an amazing opportunity which timed itself out perfectly,” says director M. William Panek. “When production rights became available last summer, we wanted to continue Jeff & Hunter’s storytelling with as many of the same team members as possible. Not only did we want to recreate 2015’s excitement with this special opportunity, but we also wanted to highlight the writers’ collaborative nature with designers and actors who really have a handle on who these people are. I’m thrilled to see how these artists have grown, and welcome new faces on the journey – both onstage, backstage, and in the audience!”
The cast includes the reunited co-stars of Brown Paper Box Co.’s Jeff Recommended [title of show] - Neala Barron (Woman 1), Matt Frye (Man 2) and Anna Schutz* (Woman 2) – with new cast member Nick Shoda* (Man 1) joining the team.
The production team includes M. William Panek* (Director), T.J. Anderson* (Musical Director), Justin Harner* (Asst. Musical Director), Laura Wiley (Projection Designer), Sara Heymann*(Set/Prop Designer), Damian Wille* (Production Manager), and Charlie Sheets* (Graphic Designer).
*Denotes Brown Paper Box Co. members
As of today, The Brown Paper Box Co., NFP is following in the footsteps of Facebook and dropping our "The." "The" has served us well over the last 5 years and while we will miss it, we are excited to slim down and get right to the important stuff: Brown Paper Box Co.
- Board of Directors & Executive Artistic Team
Brown Paper Blog
Making theatre. Writing about it. Maybe some hilarious Youtube cat videos in between.