FOUNDING PROGRAM DIRECTOR NEW YORK THEATRE INTENSIVES in association with the artists of the Ensemble Studio Theatre
The idea of a New Play Summer Intensive emerged from Susan’s desire to honor the legacy of the artists of the Ensemble Studio Theatre in both New York and Los Angeles. She began researching and developing the idea in early 2008 and spoke with theatre professionals across North America in developing curriculum and focus for this unique theatre training program. In honoring the process of new play development, we honor the value of collaboration, talking and listening, process and product. These values and skills easily translate to skill sets necessary for a functional society and Susan is delighted that the curriculum she has developed with partner Rod Menzies functions as both an arts and general education model.
Actress/writer Susan Merson started her NY career in the Broadway cast of Zefirelli’s SATURDAY SUNDAY MONDAY. She went on to co found the LION THEATRE Company working with Garland Wright for over ten years, helping to create the existing Theatre Row complex and appearing in the original production of VANITIES where she performed the role of Mary which she created over 900 times. A move to LA in the 80’s introduced her to film and television where she has appeared as an actress the leading dramas and comedies over a twenty year period. Some of her film appearances are in LOST IN YONKERS (Aunt Gert), THINGS TO DO IN DENVER WHEN YOU'RE DEAD, PHENOMENON and TERMINATOR 3!
Involved as actress/writer with new plays and playwrights since the early 70's she has several solo pieces to her credit (as writer/ performer) (REFLECTIONS OF A CHINA DOLL, CLARICE COHEN'S TRIBAL TALES OF LOVE, (JWTP Commission), THE LOVES OF SHIRLEY ABRAMOWITZ ETC) as well as full length and one act plays that have been performed nationally. She won a Best Actress Award in performance with colleague Sherry Glaser's solo piece, FAMILY SECRETS. She has also written YOUR NAME HERE: AN ACTOR WRITERS GUIDE TO SOLO PERFORMANCE, which continues to sell on Amazon.
She served as Resident Playwright for the Jewish Women's Theatre Project in Los Angeles, California for three seasons. Her JWTP commission, A BOUNTY OF LACE, about sex and violence in the midst of war, won several awards including the ATHE Religion in Theatre Award in 2009. HAIR: A REMINISCENCE was a Heideman Award finalist. Screenplay SWIMMING UPSTREAM is under option to Jimola Productions.
Susan has served as the Producing Director of the Jewish Women's Theatre Project, Artistic Director of the Streisand Festival, Associate Producer at the Fountain Theatre and co founder and chief moderator (20 years) of the LA Writers Bloc, established with award winning writers Jane Anderson and Donald Margulies. Susan received her MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College in Vermont in July 2003. She teaches Playwriting at Cal State Fullerton She has been a member of EST since her first play, REFLECTIONS OF A CHINA DOLL, was produced there in 1977.
Her novel DREAMING IN DAYLIGHT came out in 2009. Other fiction has been published in NICE JEWISH GIRLS, edited by Marlene Marks, Penguin; JEWS IN AMERICA, Hugh Lauter Levin; Lilith Magazine, Democrats Soul and additional journals.