5 Questions with Suzanne Bradbeer

The 5th reading in our FORUM “Soundings” series is THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT by Suzanne Bradbeer. This reading will be begin at 7:00pm and will be held at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Dreyfuss Theatre, 285 Madison Avenue, Madison, NJ. Click here for directions. Click here for a printable map of the campus (the Dreyfuss Theatre is located in Building 9).

Atop a roof in New York City we see the lives of two young brothers and their mother play out over the years between the two world wars. As the story progresses we see what each brother must give up for his family, and how each member of the family deals with the loss of their father and husband.

Suzanne Bradbeer was the recipient of the 2012 BMI Foundation’s Harrington Award for Creative Excellence. She has also received grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Berrilla Kerr Foundation, and the Anna Sosenko Trust. The God Game (a winner of the Ashland New Plays Festival), will be presented in a co-world premiere with Capital Rep and Gulfshore Playhouse in early 2014.  Nominated by Theresa Rebeck, Suzanne was a Fellow of the Lark’s Playwrights Workshop.  Other residencies include: The New Harmony Project, New River Dramatists, Alabama Shakespeare Festival’s Southern Writers Project, and the Dorset Theatre Festival.  Suzanne is a member of the Ensemble Studio Theatre (company member and member of the Playwrights Unit), the Actors Studio P/D Workshop, and the Dramatists Guild.

Suzanne Bradbeer

  1. You were nominated by Theresa Rebeck (creator of the NBC drama “Smash” and playwright of “Seminar” starring Alan Rickman) for a Fellow at Lark’s Playwrights Workshop. How did nomination come to be?  I met Theresa through the phenomenally talented Rebecca O’Brien, who was in a small theater company with me for a couple of years.Theresa read my play FULL BLOOM and as one of the artistic advisers at the Lark, she thought the Lark would be a good fit for me and my work. I see it as the gift that keeps on giving because of the relationships I’ve developed there, and because I have had the opportunity to continue working at the Lark through various programs geared towards their alumni. And this year I am able to give back in a small way, as I am a co-facilitator for one of those programs, the Monthly Meeting of the Minds.
  1. What was your experience like during your residency at Alabama Shakespeare Festival’s Southern Writers Project?  They brought me, my director, and a dramaturg down for a week-long residency of my play THE SLEEPING GIRL. I worked on the play, we rehearsed with their acting company, I worked some more, and then we had a public reading at the end of the week. It’s a beautiful facility they have, and while we were there we happened to catch an exciting performance of THE DREAMS OF SARAH BREEDLOVE, by Regina Taylor.  It was one of those plays that I would have expected to see produced all over the country. I also remember eating at Olive Garden a lot.

3. We have yet to see a photo of you without a coffee cup. Do you always have one in your back pocket should a photo op arrive? Amen, sister!  I do love my coffee.

4. Where did you get the idea for THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT? 
I was commissioned to write a play for the Blue Collar Theatre Company, and the only guideline was that it be a one set play.  I had been thinking about sibling and other kinds of rivalry and because we were at war (again) I was also thinking about the constancy of war and how in the first half of the 20th century, a single family could easily have seen their nearest and dearest on the line in both the world wars.  My Dad grew up in England and his elder two uncles were POW’S in WWI, and his youngest uncle was a POW in WWII (all three eventually came home, although great-uncle Harry lost his leg).  So somewhere in the process of figuring out the play, I decided it would span the period between those two wars, but it would take place in the U.S. and in the family’s backyard – and because it was New York City, the backyard became the roof.

5. If you were given the opportunity to write for a year in one of the following locations, which would you choose any why?  a) Alaska  b)Caribbean  c)Italy  d)Australia  e)upon a yacht that was going to travel the world

I’m leaning towards that yacht.  When else in my life would I ever be able to do something like that?  I fancy sitting on the deck and just looking at the sky and the water – very important for writing, the sitting and looking.  Yes, I have to go with the yacht.  A yacht with a year’s supply of great coffee, natch.
Playwrights Theatre will present these readings free of charge, with an optional donation of $10

♦ A $25 dollar donation will get you a FORUM pass that covers all of the readings.
♦ A $250 donation will get you a rehearsal pass that allows access to all reading rehearsals.
♦ Reservations can be made online at or call (973) 514-1787 X10

Click here to reserve your seat to see THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT.

You can also find additional information on our website about the entire FORUM reading series.