We are so lucky to have had so many fantastic equity actors work for us over the years. These professionals steeped in the trade work alongside the students. They must be exemplary in their hard work, success, and dedication to their craft. It just so happens that Suzy Hunt has these characteristics in spades.
You may recognize her from roles in The Trip to Bountiful, Doubt, and Lost in Yonkers.
1. What was special about the MRT experience you had?
Working with students rather than a slate of professional actors. The students were always eager to learn and to work hard. And to play hard too. The work is arduous and repetitive and far from home so challenges are never ending. I found myself learning from them the nuts and bolts of creative improvisation for we would perform on many kinds and qualities of stages. Often we would reblock a scene given the dimensions of the playing space. Their eagerness to solve problems and delight when theatrical variances worked was heartening. Many of the students I worked with have gone on to professional work in the theatre. A good dose of tour will never discourage an impassioned theatre worker.
2. Where did your work with the MRT come in your career? What effect did it have on your career?
Mid late to late…though as the Pythons say, “I’m not dead yet.” I played middle aged and older character roles for the Rep. And some juicy ones for the which I am grateful to Greg Johnson. Although touring for some time away from your home base excludes you from roles, you nevertheless have the singular pleasure of working on a part in many venues for many audiences in a MRT tour. I never regretted taking the time away from other opportunities because the work although difficult was rewarding on many levels. I adored the students, the people along the way whose lives we enriched (and that ain’t hay), the extraordinary kindnesses from our hosts, and the opportunity to travel the length and breadth of our wonderful country. Having the chance to play these roles galvanized my career. I brought the experience of playing them to many other subsequent roles. I continue to work into my 70’s with gratitude that I am able to do so. I am a walking illustration that a career in the theatre is a lifelong commitment and joy.
3. What is your favorite classic the Rep has toured? Why?
That’s easy…The Trip to Bountiful. This great play about going home resonated with our audiences more than any play I was ever a part of at the Rep. We tour in many states that are mostly rural. We play in small to medium sized towns where the populace is closer to the land than in our major cities. These are people who have lost their land, seen it blown away in hurricanes, bought out by corporate farms, or lost because their children went to the cities. Their tears and stories about the loss of home brought me to tears as well. The world of family farms is mostly gone and the yearning to return to a place that gave solace is palpable to these people and I was moved by their emotion. And of course we met Mr. Horton Foote on our tour and listened to his beautiful words during a question and answer period. His hug and praise at the end of our show is something I will take with me always.
4. If you could tell a student actor hoping to work for the Rep one thing what would it be?
Embrace all challenges.
5. What singular memory stands out?
I could say the day our Ryder truck loaded with all our sets was confiscated by the authorities in Billings, Montana after the bombing in Oklahoma, or the time we arrived at the theatre and there were long tables of moonshine in Mason jars for every member of the company, or the fantastic hikes I took with Jimmy Robinson including the day of the tornado in Oxford Mississippi when we happened upon the home of William Faulkner, or the wonderful hospitality we received every time we played Plains, Montana. Especially the night we held our show for the folks coming from Thompson Falls in a snow storm. We took our curtain call around midnight to a standing ovation of very grateful people. It was thrilling. But I guess I have to say that playing all the gorgeous theatres that had once been vaudeville houses from Uniontown, PA with it’s ghost to the elegant Galveston Theatre to the glorious theatre in my birthplace of Butte, Montana (please fill in the name of this theatre cause I have forgotten it) is finally my greatest memory. I would stand on the floor backstage and look up into the loft and imagine all who had come before. I made a silent prayer to St. Genesius who is the patron saint of actors. All of the greats and near greats played in these houses. The communities that had the wit to save them added immeasurably to the cultural life of their towns. We played in houses that held the comedy of the Marx Brothers, the easy wit of Will Rogers, and the glorious sounds of Rubinstein. It was before TV and Blockbuster movies, and all the rest and to these old eyes it was a halcyon time.