The next interview in our stagey chat series, is with the sensational Suzanne Ahmet. Suzanne is currently in the London production of The Haunting of Susan A. Suzanne's recent theatre credits include: Marvellous, Pride and Prejudice, The Merry Wives of Windsor and The Jungle Book.

Get yourself comfy and join Suzanne and I for a chat about all things stagey!

Hi Suzanne, thanks so much for chatting to Stage to Page today! How are you? And would you mind giving us an introduction to yourselves?
Hey Zoe, thanks so much for inviting me to Stage to Page and for coming to see us in Susan A.  Delighted to be part of your blog! A brief intro: June 2022 marks 17 years since graduating The Webber Douglas Academy and 20 years from the University Of East Anglia - both courses affording many happy memories and fantastic training. I’ve mainly worked in theatre, but the last few years have also opened doors in screen and voice. Alongside acting, I’ve worked as an education practitioner for Trestle Theatre and Shakespeare’s Globe as well as a development artist for The RSC, The Globe: Research In Action, Kali Theatre and The New Vic, Newcastle Under-Lyme. Each avenue has introduced me to the most generous, talented, and supportive people who, over the years have become friends, if not family.  I’m very lucky.

Your current role in The Haunting of Susan A has just opened at The King's Head Theatre, in London. Can you tell us about the production?
The Haunting of Susan A is written by the phenomenal Mark Ravenhill who is also the Artistic Director of The Kings Head. Mark is not only a unique playwright, but his quiet support of the artists around him, must really be highlighted and celebrated. He champions new and established talent, with quiet determination and calm belief. I believe Susan A is a great example of his poetic voice, which unearths a deeply layered story, in just an hour. The production is simple and straightforward. At its best, it draws in the viewer, bringing them close to the story’s protagonist - the ghost of a woman, whose history lingers in the theatre, desperate to be told and heard before her soul can pass over to the other side and finally be laid to rest. Often, we are asked more details about this woman, after the performance. To me, this means the production has done its job - you leave curious to know more about an unheard voice - you want to know who she is…

For those that don't know, the play is set in The King's Head Theatre itself. How is it working on a piece that's written for the setting it's performed in?
It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. The Kings Head, an iconic space and London’s oldest pub theatre, is soon to be closed and moved to a different location. Mark has written a site-specific piece, paying homage to the very room in which the story is told.  His writing connects to the physical space in which you sit, and he evokes its history from 1970 as well as centuries previous to ours. I think audiences feel those resonances as Mark and the character of Susan bring them to life. Which makes each performance unique and exciting… 

photography by Rah Petherbridge

What's been most challenging about bringing the script of The Haunting of Susan A to life?
How do we ask a 21st century audience to believe that the ghost of a woman, is in the room with us, right now? I think we’ve come together across the creative board to respect the history of the theatre itself as well as the story of our ghost. I’m deliberately omitting certain details to avoid spoilers! It’s a delicate balance of writing, storytelling, lights, set, costume, sound, and stage management. I think the most challenging part is finding that balance each time we tell this story. We’re searching for it, each evening, with the specific audience we have with us, the temperature (literally) of the room and the telling we have prepared. It’s a living feast. 

The Woman in Black, 2:22, The Haunting of Susan A - London is brimming with incredible ghost stories right now. What do you think it is about ghost stories that brings audiences in?
There are so many ways to tell a ghost story. I think human beings have a natural curiosity about those who have gone before us. Think about what draws you in when you watch/listen to anything - screen, theatre, radio. I’d hazard a guess it’s relationships. The space between two people and how they affect one another. And so, I think it’s instinct to want to connect to a person who has lived before us - who were they, why aren’t they at peace, what is it that they need us to understand before they let go and rest? Perhaps that is why we gravitate towards ghost stories. It’s not just the thrill of being scared (although that can be brilliantly satisfying!) - but also a need to connect. I think it’s the most beautiful thing about being human - needing to understand and feel someone else’s life. Perhaps it helps us understand our own with more humility and depth..

You've starred in theatre, short film, television roles and done voiceover work. How does the creative process differ for each, and do you have a preference?
Honestly, every time I’m offered work in any of the above, I feel like I’ve won the lottery! When I see my agent or a colleague’s name flash up on my phone, it’s the same thrill as getting a text from someone you’ve got a crush on - it never runs dry!! Of course, each discipline holds its own rigorous technical process. If you try to use a “one size fits” all approach to camera, stage and voice work, then I think you’re asking for trouble. I’ve had the most incredible minds help me understand the delicacies of each- for which I’m eternally grateful.  Every day is a school day. But that’s what makes this job so timeless - you’re never ‘there’ - you’re always learning. The one thing that does bind each medium, is finding the truth of the story you’re telling. Finding it inside you and working from that space means wherever you go, whatever you create, it’s started from a place of honesty, relaxation, and truth.  

photography by Rah Petherbridge

Is there a stage role you've not yet played that you'd love to get your teeth into?
Am I allowed to say a wish list of creatives I’d love to work with instead?! Jane Campion, Pedro Almodóvar, Julia Solomonoff, Duncan Christie, Mark Rylance, Erica Whyman, Rufus Norris, Dominic Cooke, Nicola Walker, Julie Hesmondhalgh, Sarah Lancashire, Carl Prekopp & Emma Harding. And lots more!!

A question I have to ask every guest: my blog is called Stage to Page. But if you could turn any book, from page to stage, what would it be and why?
The God Of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy. It is painfully beautiful. At its core: two people from opposite sides of the society they find themselves in, falling deeply in love. My own parentage combines several races with a very British upbringing in North London. Although my mixed ancestry has weathered some historic storms, I’ve never ever doubted how much I am loved. It’s a challenge being the child of a divide, but a special gift too. I think The God Of Small Things captures the pain and beauty of that complex love brilliantly. A stage adaptation would be epic. 

And finally, why should people book tickets to The Haunting of Susan A?
Come and hear Mark’s writing live - he has written the pulse and heartbeat of not just one woman’s lost story, but many. And inside that, is the sadness and bitter truth of poverty for all people of a certain class, across the centuries. The original Kings Head Theatre is soon closing. Come and be part of this moment. We want your heart beating in there, with ours.

Thank you so much for chatting to us, Suzanne. You can catch Suzanne in The Haunting of Susan A at The King's Head Theatre, here. After The Haunting of Susan A, Suzanne will be performing in Into the Melting Pot, as part of the Stroud Green Festival.

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