One war is like another… Is it possible to stop the cycle?
If only we could find…
A new play about the impact of war on women
Written and Performed by Susanne Sulby
Directed by Stephen Stahl
Written and Performed by Susanne Sulby
Directed by Stephen Stahl
"Playwright/actor/director/producer Susanne Sulby created a multimedia experience on her black box theatre stage that transported the audience straight to the jail cells of Kosovo one minute, refugee camps in Palestine the next, and suburban kitchens, where an American woman (presumably herself) existentially questioned how she can reach the victims and survivors of war on the other side of her TV screen.
The simplicity of the set (a scarf here, a video projected image of a sandy mountainscape there) drew attention to the timbre of her character’s conviction, pain, and strength. Most importantly, it brought into focus the idea that the experience of war, the grieving involved in both experiencing it or being a helpless spectator to it, are compellingly universal messages."
- Raluca Alab, GO Magazine
Dulce Et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep, Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells droppin' softly behind.
Gas! GAS! Quick Boys! — An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime, —
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams before my helpless sight
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the forth-corrupted lungs,
Bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable soures on innocent tongues, —
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.
This project began for me many years ago when I was watching coverage of the conflict in Serbo-Croatia. As it unfolded, I was shocked and appalled. I couldn’t believe that after the tragedy of the Nazi Holocoust the world could still tolerate ’Ethnic Cleansing.’ I couldn’t understand how this could be happening. What does it take for a group of people to decide to slaughter another group? What do the dissenters do? How do the women react? Conversely, I was aware that it appeared that the only way to stop this violence was to use even greater force. This seamed incongruous. Many years later my own life has unfolded. I have children. I have experienced 9-11 and the wars that followed; I have experienced CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, BBC, CNBC, etc. and what seems like a constant barrage of horrors in the world. I have become fascinated with the news and the question of how a reporter remains impartial and sane. During those many years I still had not figured out what to do to make the world a better place. I felt completely and utterly impotent.
When 9-11 happened, I decided I had to do something, anything. I began small, donating money or used clothing or shoes, helping at food banks. I said yes to as many things as I could. None of these things had a direct link to 9-11 or the wars currently being waged in this world. It did not matter to me. I was learning that every small thing makes a difference. I was beginning to have faith in humanity again. I was walking toward my sanctuary. My purpose is to say out loud, we need to do better. We can do better. Yes, protect ourselves, but how? Peace is inevitable. I will keep sayng that; otherwise it will never happen. I am determined to leave the world better than when I found it.
Susanne Sulby has been acting and teaching for over 25 years. For more information on her career, visit her website www.susannesulby.com
Employing writings ranging from Rumi's thirteenth-century poetry to a soldiers e-mail as it tracks the intransigence of war through history, a theme emerges: one war is like another; history repeats itself as the same mistakes are made again and again.
I ask is it possible to break the cycle & find a sanctuary?
(Performer and Playwright) An established actor, designated Linklater voice instructor, dialect coach and voiceover artist, Ms. Sulby has performed for over 20 years. Favorite roles include Gertrude in Hamlet with Rev Theatre, Aunt Bobbie in American Sligo with New City Stage Company, Yelena in Black Russian with InterAct Theatre , Molly Bloom in A Dublin Bloom based on James Joyce’s Ulysses , directed by Gregory Doran of the Royal Shakespeare Company and Queen Elizabeth in Richard III with Novel Stages. Her first film role was playing opposite Billy Crudup in the 2000 award-winning Evenstar feature film, Jesus’ Son. Her film credits also include the recent feature film, Silver Linings Playbook (nominated for 8 Academy Awards) directed by David O. Russell, starring Bradley Cooper, Robert DeNiro and Jacki Weaver.
(Director) A seasoned writer and director, Stahl received his early training at The Hedgerow Theatre under Jasper Deeter and Rose Schulman, then moved to New York City and studied with Lee Strasberg at the Actor’s Studio. His production, directorial and industrial credits include numerous professional stage shows, award-winning films and a decade of writing, producing and directing the Philadelphia Music Awards. Mr. Stahl has directed, written for, produced and worked with Billy Joel, Bill Cosby, Patti LaBelle, Kathy Sledge, Sandy Duncan, Jason Bateman, Phyllis Hyman, Kitty Kallen, Hall & Oates, Grant Shaud, Julie Gold, Clint Holmes, Bobby Rydell, Divine, Peggy King, Teddy Pendergrass and many others. His recent New York production of Lady Day starring Dee Dee Bridgewater won him and the production national critical acclaim.
The struggles of war, dramatically told through three main characters, the housewife, the reporter and the POW, each gripped by realities and horrific images of war. Unable to cope with the pain, futility and brutality of war, each seeking their own sanctuary.
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“Susanne Sulby’s honorable piece channels vigorous opposition to war into a one-women show.”
-The New Yorker
“A FINE PLAY about war as seen through the eyes of the women of the world. HAUNTING & ELECTRIC. The special effects are SENSATIONAL. Susanne Sulby is a gifted actress who makes her argument in highly emotional scenes as she plays different women. She has come up with A MOVING, HIGHLY UNIQUE WORK that does make you stop and think. A GRIPPING, ENGAGING & DRAMATIC SHOW.”
-History News Network
“COMPELLING & CAPTIVATING. An impassioned call for peace. A momentous show with a message that resonates in our time and for all time. Under Stephen Stahl’s fluid direction, Susanne Sulby transforms from one character to another with split-second timing and finesse. Her captivating portrayals are delivered with sensitivity, heartfelt emotion and psychological intensity.”
“SUSANNE SULBY IS A MASSIVE ENERGY ON STAGE with a commanding presence with a truly gorgeous vocal ability. Director Stephen Stahl has created an epic environment where we move around the globe to historic moments through the clever use of projection (exquisite and mesmerizing) and a powerful soundtrack. I APPLAUD SULBY'S GENUINE DESIRE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.”
-NY Theatre Guide
“URGENT & COMPELLING! The subject of ‘Sanctuary’ is urgent, and its underlying question compelling – what can an individual do in the face of war and violence?”
-New York Theater
“A POWERFUL PERFORMANCE. Each character Susanne Sulby transforms into has their own unique accent, and she briefly loses herself into each personality, her energy never waning, her emotions never holding back. Sanctuary’s message is ultimately one of peace. Sulby believes that whether we write a play, say a kind word, or simply remain aware, one person can make a difference in the world.”
"A memorable exploration of what war does to us, and why peace matters. Thank you, Susanne Sulby, for your remarkable solo performance."
"A dynamic and, at times, disturbing multimedia performance, Sanctuary focuses primarily on three female characters: a mother bombarded by television broadcasts of destruction and death, a detached war correspondent, and a POW in Kosovo."
"Staged by veteran Off Broadway director Stephen Stahl, the play will intrigue theater audiences with a poignant and touching look on the impact of war on women over the centuries."
"Broadway Baby talks to Susanne Sulby, the writer of Sanctuary, a show dealing with the impact of war on women."
-Levi Bailey, Broadway Baby
"From my first viewing of Sanctuary, a powerful one-woman show about the universal experience of war across the centuries, I knew this was a different kind of theatre experience. Most importantly, it brought into focus the idea that the experience of war, the grieving involved in both experiencing it or being a helpless spectator to it, are compellingly universal messages."
-Raluca Albu, GO Magazine
"An exploration of the struggles and tragedies of war and our need for sanctuary. A fast paced energetic multi media exploration of the roles we have played in war throughout time. Multiple characters expose the connections of fear, bigotry, power and religion with war and how they find sanctuary from it."
-Karen Tortora-Lee, The Happiest Medium
"The multi-character play also features a reporter, inspired by CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour. In the production, Sulby appears as the reporter in taped segments that are presented on a screen as broadcasts from a war zone. This dramatic device allows the housewife character to respond to the violence."
-Valerie Reed, philly.com
"Susanne’s play Sanctuary is based largely on her experience as a housewife watching the world unfold on CNN. Genocide in Kosovo. Towers falling. Troops in Baghdad. 'I had a lot of feelings about what was going on in the world,' she said. She felt a pull to doing something, anything to connect with the world outside of her home. In her one-woman meditation on war, Sulby offers no solutions but she creates a space of contemplation on how to stop the numbness and start the healing."
-M.J. Fine, Bucks County Courier Times