Broadway Baby talks to Susanne Sulby, the writer of Sanctuary, a show dealing with the impact of war on women.
A dynamic and at times disturbing multi-media performance, Sanctuary focuses primarily on three female characters: a mother bombarded by endless television broadcasts of destruction and death, an emotionally detached war correspondent and a prisoner of war who both longs for her mother and is desperate at being separated from her own children.
What is your play about?
Sanctuary is a poignant and powerful look at the impact of war on women. The play is a kaleidoscopic view of different wars and the effect they have on several key female characters. Using actual emails from soldiers in Iraq, video, the poetry of a WWI soldier, Rumi and Auden, as well as my own writing, we weave these to make a complex and heartfelt tapestry that questions the roles and responsibilities of individuals in times of war. We’re trying to bring some of the most pertinent issues to life on stage.
A dynamic and at times disturbing multi-media performance, Sanctuary focuses primarily on three female characters: a mother bombarded by endless television broadcasts of destruction and death, an emotionally detached war correspondent and a prisoner of war who both longs for her mother and is desperate at being separated from her own children. All three characters are deeply affected by the brutality and senselessness of war. Each seeks sanctuary from war’s violence, whether physical or emotional.
Why did you decide to take your show to Space UK this year?
TheSpaceUK is one of the top venues in the Fringe. After learning about the number of, not only successful but award winning shows, I knew this would be a great place to perform. Charles Pamment as the Creative Director for theSpaceUK was unbelievably helpful in securing a timeslot and ensuring the process went smoothly. He curates a diverse and compelling line up of top-notch performers and I am excited to be one of them!
What makes your show unique amongst the thousands of other shows at the festival?
Sanctuary is unique because it compellingly tells the story of women in the conflicts of our nations. Bringing the abstract idea of war back to real people and examining how war affects individuals. It powerfully moves us through time highlighting the repetitive cycles of war, bloodshed, destruction, truce, reconciliation and alliance. It asks the simple question, ‘Cant we become allies before the bloodshed?’
How did you create your show?
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 Holocaust 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 saying that, otherwise it will never happen. I am determined to leave the world better than when I found it.
If your show does sell in Edinburgh, what do want to do with it next?
Peaceful world domination. Clearly I would like to keep my sense of humor… and bring this show to a wider audience. I am currently in talks with producers to bring Sanctuary to an Off-Broadway venue. I would like to tour this production, eventually seeing it performed internationally reaching a wide audience and shifting our global consciousness, even ever so slightly, to a more peaceful, productive world.
Show Name: Sanctuary
Venue: theSpace: Niddry Street
Dates: 17th-22nd, 24th-29th
Times: 17th-22nd @ 11:00am, 24th-29th 13:25
Twitter Handle: @sanctuarytheplay