Spotlight On: Susan Williams
Susan Williams is an actor and improviser. She has been a member of WIT on and off since 2013. Susan has a certificate in performing arts from UCOL, and a Diploma in stage and screen arts from Whitireia, and has been in more community theatre than you can shake an invisible stick at. She is also a queer, functionally blind, chronically ill, geek, and proud of it! This is her second year at NZIF, having made her debut co-teaching and co-directing Stories of the Darkest Night last year.
Tell us a bit about your show and the idea behind it, and why/how it excites you.
Galactipedia is an improvised radio drama, inspired by the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. If that doesn’t sound exciting to you I am not sure if we can be friends. It’s classic sci fi, and in a classic form, and the only way it could possibly get nerdier is if it was made up on the spot... Oh, wait! It is.This is a show I wanted to go to, but no one had made it yet, so I figured if I wanted to watch it I’d have to pitch it. It’s going to be a romp, an exploration of what makes a brand new world facinating, and if I can convince any genre newebies that sci fi and radio drama are awesome, and make my fellow geeks happy at the same time, well that’s the definition of success!
How did the idea for the show come about?
I’ve been obsessed with the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for ages, especially the first incarnation, which was the radio plays. Last year I co-directed a show (Stories of the Darkest Night) for NZIF, it was a sound based show, and I guess I wanted to take the idea further. Being a functionally blind improvisor means life is a lot easier if you aren’t trying to direct mime or something like that, so audio shows are ideal, and somewhat rarer than other improv forms. Also as a blindie it is so cool to go to a show where I’m not missing anything, and I want that for other members of the blind community. So I was just like: audio format, geeky sci fi, accessible to the blind… You know what this sounds like? Hitchhiker’s Guide, but it’s the twenty first century, intergalactic hitchhiker’s would probably just check Wikipedia. And so Galactipedia was born.
What show other than your own are you most excited to see? Why?
Off Book: The Musical. If I can’t have sci fi, I will happily take a musical any day! I love musicals! I particularly adore improvised musicals. Well, right after Les Mis and Hamilton. I third-place-adore improvised musicals. And this sounds like an awesome musical!
What's the best thing about improv?
When things don’t go the way you were expecting, and you’re standing in front of an audience, and your brain is going at a billion miles an hour, and then your mouth opens, and you say something you had no idea you were going to say. That feeling, like you are constantly falling, but flying at the same time, that feeling is one of the best parts of improv!And the people that come on the journey to that point, who push you outside your comfort zone, and jump off the metaphorical cliff with you, they are the best too! Oh darn, I guess I am just a theatre adrenalin-junky!