writer, director, performer, educator
Developing Ensemble Works
Writer, Director, and Performer Susan Galbraith has worked in both classical and contemporary theater and dance repertory with directors and choreographers including Peter Sellars, Emily Mann, Michael Cristofer, Anthony Cornish, the Kabuki team Leonard Pronko and Takao Tomono, Virginia Freeman, Ed Crow, and Drury Pifer. With Pifer, she teamed up assisting with the directing of his play Strindberg in Hollywood at Woolly Mammoth, and later, as an actress, soloing his Screaming Woman Next under Pifer’s direction at the Corcoran and the Dupont Gallery in Wilmington, Delaware. For eleven years she served as Artistic Director of Performers Ensemble where she developed her combined interest in western and far-eastern dance and music-theater forms to create hybrid works and develop ensemble, touring to festivals pieces such as the highly acclaimed Journeys Through Imaginary Landscapes, a masked dance-theater piece inspired by Hiroshige’s prints with set “installation” by Isamu Noguchi, and Smile at the Foot of the Ladder, a Picasso-like circus piece based on the novella by Henry Miller. Her playwriting credits include three works to engage community awareness and healing on social issues of substance abuse, domestic violence, and racism: A Balancing Act, Holding Patterns, and Opening Doors. She also wrote Three Marias, based on the book by three Portuguese women inspired by the letters of Maria Alcoforado.
Susan is a founding member of the Alliance for New Music-Theatre and currently serves as its president and Artistic Director. With composer Robert Bartlett Johnson she closely collaborated on the chamber operas Our Medea, Chinese Village and A Woman Changed Into a Fox. Together they joined forces with composer Ann Hoopes to create Waiting for Amelia, a musical about the pilot A. Earhart and the fame that made her an international icon.
In 2012, Susan was made Artistic Director of Alliance for New Music-Theatre and launched Radical Transformations, a series of four shows and community workshops to celebrate the diversity of music-theatre styles and cultures represented in the Greater Washington area. She wrote and directed Sandaya: Burmese Lessons as part of that series. In 2013, Susan returned to the stage after some years absence to work with director Mirenka Čechova and performed in the much-acclaimed Unveiling by Václav Havel’s as well as devising and directing a companion piece about Havel entitled Vaněk Unleashed with composer Maurice Saylor. Both works performed in the Washington area before traveling to the Czech Republic where they were enthusiastically received at The Prague Fringe Festival and where Susan was nominated for both best actress and best director/creative originality. In September 2014, Susan directed her own stage adaptation of Kafka’s Metamorphosis incorporating animation, original music, and live cello.
In September 2016, at the special invitation of Ambassador Petr Gandalovič and the Embassy of the Czech Republic, Susan Galbraith yet one more “Vaněk play,” Protest, to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Václav Havel. It was performed as a private “apartment performance” at the Ambassador’s residence, then at President Woodrow Wilson’s House followed by a performance in NYC at the Cultural Center before returning to the Prague Fringe in 2017
Fall 2017, Susan Galbraith and Maurice Saylor will present their new collaboration, R.U.R.: A Retro-Futuristic Cabaret Musical, a work created site specifically for the debut season of Dupont Underground. The work is based on the 1920’s play by Karel Čapek, in which the playwright coined the word and the launched the conversation about “robots” and artificial intelligence. The play dramatizes the conflict very much part of today’s conversation: whether the combination of a robotic work force and artificial intelligence will liberate mankind from economic drudgery or threaten to overcome and destroy the human race.
Also this year, Susan will be rejoining composer and rubab player Milad Yousofi and poetess Alaha Ahrar to bring the perspective of Afghan women to Euripides’ classic play of victims of war. Women of Troy/Voices from Afghanistan will serve as true bi-cultural collaboration and a celebration of the arts of Afghanistan and the resilience of its women.
Susan has taught theatre and language arts at all levels and for many years served as a Lead Trainer for Great Books Foundation, engaging students and teachers in inquiry-based conversations developing critical thinking and respect for multiple perspectives. In her capacity as Vice-President of Global Programs for the company, she helped train teachers in China and worked with developing a Great Books curriculum at the High School level.
Susan adds her voice to the conversation about the performing arts in Washington by writing for DCTheatreScene on opera, dance, and theatre. Go to http://dctheatrescene.com/author/susan-galbraith/
Trained in both directing and performing for Music-Theater by the late opera director and teacher Wesley Balk, she continues his work in her evolution in theater.
Susan holds a BFA in Drama and English from Tufts University where she graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. She received an MFA from the University of Minnesota and was awarded a post-graduate Fulbright Scholarship in the study of Japanese music and dance-theatre performance. Susan also received Boston Mayor’s Special Award for theatre work that served community. She is proud to have also been awarded a special residency with Pete Seeger and Jane Sapp in arts for social justice at Blue Mountain Center.