Susan G. Kramer is the Producing Artistic Director of Howard Community College’s critically acclaimed Arts Collective. Susan is currently directing “Making Advances: Revealing Stories of Gender and Sexual Identity,” now playing at HCC through June 17th.
The premiere of this original play will speak to how we see each other, how we want to be seen, how we simply are – through self-discovery, censorship, provocation, and appropriation. “Making Advances” will engage, expand, and continue this necessary, ever-evolving, ever-revolving conversation – through evocative and imaginative movement, lighting, sound, media, costumes, with text woven throughout (stories familiar… or not) which will surprise, transcend and explore these themes between the here and now to the ethereal.
For more information and tickets, click here.
Why is “Making Advances” an important play for theatregoers?
This play bravely marches toward inherently loaded concepts and ideas around gender and sexual identity. The concept/ storytelling style included in this production, delivers memorable, carefully drawn characters every person witnessing can relate to! We believe this production lifts up, moves toward a future full of hope, acceptance, reconciliation, while standing in the middle of this “in between” place (what we know right now). The take-away, we hope, is about awareness, education. And hope.
Please talk about how the script to “Making Advances” was developed.
The cast came into the rehearsal process already armed with a great knowledge on these subjects (gender, sexual identity). We followed Arts Collective’s previously successful original works process (“Making Advances” is AC’s 8th original work!), which includes creating approximately 100 improvisational skeleton scenes in the rehearsal room. The rest is Arts Collective’s “secret sauce”! I am proud to say this tried and true process works.
Please talk about how video is integrated into the play.
In the early stages of this production, before the audition process, I wondered what it would be like to include, layer in voices, viewpoints, perspectives via brief video “bites” featuring folks with close, long-time ties to Arts Collective; folks who might be open to providing honest takes, experiences on the subject of gender and sexual identity. Most everyone we reached out to said YES! And there they all were in the room (all 25 of them – separately, of course), openly sharing, responding to interview questions devised by the cast, (finessed by Jamie Barrios, also an ensemble member). A glorious effort seamlessly organized with the expertise by AC’s sensitive, gifted, and organized staff: Bruce Press, our video production designer, Emma K. McDonnell and Sarah Luckadoo, our interview coordinators. It was such a joyful, glorious, adventure (and education!) bringing this very-first-vision into something fully realized. It was an incredible gift to have been a part of interviewing process!
How long have you been directing? How has your direction evolved since directing your first show?
I directed my first production when I was 17 years old, for a C.Y.O. youth group in Arbutus, Maryland. (An opportunity my mother didn’t encourage but insisted I seize! And so I did.) We’ll not speak of “how long” ago that was. How has my directing evolved from then until now? That is a really great question. My roots, where I started, where I learned, continue to speak to me every day. I still maintain, hold onto (with all that I am) the work ethic, the integrity my mentors instilled. Now, as a director, I hope, I’ve embraced a whole new world, which honors new, timely technology and culture (from equipment available to rehearsal schedules created in advance to the minute, etc.)… and honoring the no-more-rehearsing-until-midnight thing. How have I evolved as a director has everything to do with every single exchange I’ve experienced while working with every single individual in the room; actors, technicians, stage managers, designers… . How have I evolved as a director? The absolute, unconditional trust I’ve been blessed with by working with, for Valerie Lash. Her unending, ever-treasured belief in me has unleashed the fearless artist I’ve become.
Why is theatre education so important to the community?
Theatre education is EVERYTHING! On this platform (Arts Collective’s) we’ve invited everyone from students, past students, staff, faculty, guest artists… everyone to get involved for the past 23 years! Arts Collective’s projects are known for including creative, intensive, empowering experiences inspired by the exchange of information, research, journaling, artistic works, as well as technical training, etc.! Everyone (from the experienced artist/ technician to the person walking in for the first time) is somehow changed, enlightened by what is learned in the room. This is why we do what we do.