Friday, July 19, 2024

Susan Miller takes us behind the scenes of her new play

It’s a timely play ripped right from the zeitgeist: Census, by Susan Miller looks at some of the key issues facing individuals these last few years.

Already acclaimed as a work of drama, Census has had the honor of being selected for the Road Theatre Company’s Festival of New Short Plays and was streamed to the public along with other winners. Plus, Census was a Finalist for the prestigious Samuel French 46th Annual Off Off Broadway Short Play Festival 2021. We caught up with Miller to find out more about this intriguing drama about who counts, and who is counted.

Playwright Susan Miller

Please share with us what exactly inspired the play!?

Miller: The 2020 Census was coming up. And it presented itself to me as a compelling opportunity to confront our histories. It just had so many theatrical possibilities. Who is counted? I was excited by what I found and learned in writing it.

How would you describe its premise?

Miller: When Jacob, a newly assigned Census taker, makes a home visit to Gloria and attempts to get answers to the standard questions on his government form, he discovers that the clear and objective facts he’s seeking are not always so, as Gloria peels back the layers and confronts him with a different reality. That she is Black and he is white complicates their encounter in unexpected and mysterious ways.

Works written by and about older women. Older women in theatre in general. What is the state of our mandate that there must be more for older women in American theater?

Miller: Well, check out Honor Roll! an action group that grew out of a couple of meetings over a couple of years, which I’m proud to have been a part of, where self-identifying female playwrights over 40 have access to information and opportunities — a place to develop relationships and ignite actions promoting their work and visibility. The mandate for me is: Let’s get our plays on! Let’s put older women on stage. In relationships. In struggle. In the world. Visibly.

How did the pandemic change your relationship to writing and the theatre?

Miller: I was deep into working on my play when the pandemic started, so I had that. And I’ll always have that. But the toll it’s taken on the creative environment is a different story. And it’s that nourishment which was always within reach that challenges us with its sudden absence. Where did it go, will it ever return? No matter, we can’t stop. People don’t stop. We re-invent, we repurpose, we use technology, we put on our shows in a garage, on the lawn, in a parking lot. We make work. We make theatre. We fill however many seats we can safely fill in whatever spaces we find. And we go on.

About Susan Miller

Susan Miller is a two-time OBIE winner and Guggenheim Playwriting Fellow, whose play A Map Of Doubt And Rescue won the prestigious Susan Smith Blackburn Prize as well as the Pinter Prize in Drama. Her play 20th Century Blues premiered at Contemporary American Theatre Festival and ran Off Broadway in the 2017/18 Season at The Signature Theatre, directed by Emily Mann. It is licensed by Dramatists Play Service. Miller is known for her acclaimed solo play, My Left Breast, which premiered in Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Humana Festival and has been performed across the U.S, Canada, and France. Other plays include: Average AmericanNasty Rumors And Final RemarksFluxCross CountryConfessions Of A Female DisorderFor Dear LifeIt’s Our Town, TooThe Grand Design and Reading List. Miller’s plays have been done at The Public Theatre, Second Stage, Naked Angels, and New York Stage & Film, among many others. Miller was a Consulting Producer/Writer for Showtime’s The L Word and ABC’s Thirtysomething. She also won the Writers Guild Of America Award for her groundbreaking LGBTQ Web Series, Anyone But Me, with over 70 million views worldwide. Her website is

To see the latest production of Census at the Gold Standard Arts Festival go here.

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Merryn Johns

Merryn Johns is the Editor-in-Chief of Queer Forty. She is an award-winning journalist, as well as a broadcaster and public speaker. Originally from Sydney, Australia where she began her career in journalism in the 1990s, she is based in New York City where she became the editor-in-chief of Curve Magazine and wrote for a variety of publications including Vanity Fair, Vogue, Slate, and more. Follow on Twitter at @Merryn1

Merryn Johns has 141 posts and counting. See all posts by Merryn Johns

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