Tuesday, January 18, 2011

ON THE SPOT with Susanna Hamnett

One woman tour de force SUSANNA HAMNETT ushers in 2011 at the New Vic with Nearly Lear. The brilliant Susanna shares her love for all things English, moving to Canada and her secret desire to run an organic food store.

New Victory: Where did you grow up?
Susanna Hamnett: I was born in London, England, and grew up in a small Essex town not far from London.

NV: Favorite hometown haunt?
SH: Toronto is my current hometown, and my favourite place is Ward’s Island – a beautiful island just a short ferry-ride from the downtown harbour.

NV: Favorite NYC haunt?
SH: I’m looking forward to discovering it during this stay!

NV: Favorite family activity?
SH: Reading favorite books out loud with my children

NV: Most memorable theatrical experience as a spectator?
SH: There have been so very many, but may I have two? Peter Brook’s epic production of the Mahabarata in Glasgow, and the National Theatre of Scotland’s Black Watch that came to Toronto.

NV: Most memorable theatrical experience as a director/performer?
SH: Touring Nearly Lear into remote villages in England and Scotland. Going into people’s communities is a real privilege, and it is such fun to play to an audience who know each other well!

NV: If you weren't in theater, what would you want to do with your life?
SH: I love the idea of being a doctor, but I would not have any of the requisite skills! I would probably be a teacher or run an organic food store.

NV: Do you do anything else to earn a living?
SH: I teach sometimes, which I love.

NV: What is your educational background? Training background?
SH: I started off at Cambridge University, where I received my degree in Russian. After that I was lucky enough to be awarded a scholarship to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London for a three-year professional acting diploma. My other major training was with master clowns John Turner and Michael Kennard in Toronto. I worked with them for several years and they opened up a whole world of creative possibilities to me and were endlessly supportive and patient while I struggled with the whole concept, practice and mindset of clowning.

NV: What is your cultural heritage? Has it influenced your work, and if so, how?
SH: I am English, born and raised, with no other immediate cultural connections in my family. I used to think of this as quite boring, but as I get older I realize that I carry a very deep feeling of connection to the old English myths and traditions... and to Shakespeare!

NV: Which 3 people have influenced you the most?
SH: I cannot possibly narrow it down to three people! I have been so blessed in having met so many truly wonderful and inspirational people– friends, mentors, teachers. Everyone of them has influenced me in some way.

NV: Why do you like performing at the New Vic?
SH: The New Victory is a gorgeous welcoming family. Their mandate to present inspiring theatre to young audiences is one that I am passionate about; and it is in the heart of New York City! I cannot imagine anything better than that!

Thanks, Susanna! Welcome to New York and The New Victory family!

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