The-Quill Section Editor, Sean Gill, recently sat down with Carroll Community College student Susanna Herrick to discuss her role in the Theater Department’s November production of “The Crucible” as well as life, acting, and wearing corsets. Susanna played Elizabeth Proctor in “The Crucible” alongside Brennan Walker as John Proctor, whose interview will appear in the February 5th issue of The-Quill. If you missed it, the first part of this interview can be found here.
This is the second episode of a multi-part series designed to pair the art with the artist. We hope you enjoy our discussion with this talented young actress.
Listen to the interview on MP3: Susanna Herrick Interview Part 2
Sean Gill: When you were looking specifically at The Crucible, did you audition for the role that you were in?
Susanna Herrick: I did, yes.
Sean Gill: Did you have any real competition for that?
Susanna Herrick: I don’t know, I never knew.
Sean Gill: Did you get any feedback from anyone else that had seen the play?
Susanna Herrick: From the audience members that had seen the play?
Sean Gill: Yeah.
Susanna Herrick: Yeah, everybody really liked it. They thought it was very moving – in some shows.
Sean Gill: And that’s something that he [Brennan] had mentioned, so let me just ask you that question – what do you feel your best night was?
Susanna Herrick: My best night – if you’ve talked to Brennan – he’ll tell you –
Sean Gill: Yeah, I’m really just trying to figure out how I can play this off between the two of you.
Susanna Herrick: [laughing] He’ll totally disagree with me, but, I really liked Thursday night, which was opening night.
Sean Gill: Which is when I saw you the first time.
Susanna Herrick: Right. And I think I liked Sunday. I did like Sunday a lot. I missed a line and Brennan had to, like, fix it for me – on Sunday. But nobody really noticed.
Sean Gill: [laughing] Yeah, I didn’t notice it.
Susanna Herrick: [laughing] That was just a little thing that happened on Sunday but otherwise that was a good night. It’s funny because I. . . there’s parts . . . I can’t say that one night is great or one night is bad because there’s always, like, parts that are so good and parts that are . . . not so good. In one night. So you’re like, well, I can’t really say it was good, but I can’t really say it was bad. Some of the pieces were really great, but at some points, you know . . .
Sean Gill: Yeah, and it’s a longish kind of production. How does that feel to be up there on stage just constantly waiting for that next line to come? Is that a nerve wracking sort of experience?
Susanna Herrick: Uhm, it can be, if you forget what your purpose is one stage. But otherwise if you’re into it, and you’re really listening to what the other person says, and you know what you want, then you have no problem.
Sean Gill: Okay, and how did you get that sort of . . . I mean, obviously in my review I talk about the fact that you elicited an emotional response from me . . . where did that emotion come from for you? Is that something that – is there a method that you use for that?
Susanna Herrick: They have names for what you do – like substitution or motive and things. But, I guess, yeah. I used some substitution. Like when she was feeling extreme sadness, for instance, I have to pull something from my own emotions when I’ve felt that way and substitute it there for when I’m practicing. But, like, when you’re practicing with substitution it’ll become natural to, to react to my husband dying. I’ll be reacting to that and not my substitution, like, my grandmother dying or something. I won’t be reacting to that, but I’ll be reacting to him dying, for instance.
Sean Gill: Ok.
Susanna Herrick: I don’t know if that makes sense.
Sean Gill: No, it does, it does.
Susanna Herrick: [laughing] It’s kind of complicated in a way. You put down the curtain for a little bit, the substitution, then you pull it up, and you’re like “oh yeah, that’s how I react to you.”
Sean Gill: And that was a pretty natural thing?
Susanna Herrick: Mmhmm. I worked with that a lot at Guilford. Training with that and figuring that out. So it was cool to put that into a production for myself.
Sean Gill: I’m sure it would be. How long did you guys prepare for the play before putting it on?
Susanna Herrick: I think it was maybe a month. Not very long.
Sean Gill: And did you know anyone before then? Like, did you know Brennann before then?
Susanna Herrick: No, I didn’t know anybody. So, it was a whole experience, going into a show knowing no one.
Sean Gill: Especially while you still have classes and everything else. Was that a hectic experience for you?
Susanna Herrick: It wasn’t too hectic. I’m only taking 2 classes right now, so it’s not bad. I felt bad for the other people who were, like, trying to get term papers done and, like, “oh dear.” I was just really happy I didn’t have to deal with that.
Sean Gill: So would you recommend the theater program to other people?
Susanna Herrick: Yes, I would. Bill’s great to work with.
Sean Gill: Cool, so how would someone go about doing that?
Susanna Herrick: You could go and . . . uhm . . . talk to. . . .
Sean Gill: [laughing] How did *you* go about it?
Susanna Herrick: [laughing] How did I? Uhm, well, I knew Bill from taking a theater course here when I was in high school and someone just gave me a paper and was, like, “someone’s giving a theater class and it would be really great if you took this.” So I took it in my junior year, yeah, my junior year.
Sean Gill: Wow, so you’ve actually been a Carroll student for a while, technically.
Susanna Herrick: Kinda. That was the only class I took. Then I graduated early from high school. I graduated as a junior and went to Guilford. So that was my senior year, which was like my college first class, I guess. That’s how I met Bill, and that’s how I figured out how cool the theater program is here.
Sean Gill: So, from that, you’ve said that you don’t really know where you see yourself, just that it is in some form of acting. Who are the people that you look up to in that field? Your heroes, if you can call them that.
Susanna Herrick: Heroes?
Sean Gill: Yeah, that’s such a standardized question I almost feel bad asking it.
Susanna Herrick: Well . . .
Sean Gill: And it doesn’t have to be in theater, either.
Susanna Herrick: Ok. My sister, Holly, Holly Herrick. She is a big hero for me. She’s in the film business and she does, she’s done three film festivals. Independent film festivals. And she’s figured that out by herself. I think that’s so hard to do sometimes, just to pioneer through the cinema or theater business, because I think it can be . . . you can kind of fight through tooth and nail through that, with that profession, and she did it and is working in that field now. And I think that’s great. Yeah, she’s a big hero for me. And there’s actors and actresses that I think are really great. She’s a very well known actress and everyone is kinda like “oh yeah, sure.”
Sean Gill: You don’t have to feel bad about that.
Susanna Herrick: [laughing] Sandra Bullock, I think, is a very good, believable actress. And what was that movie? That she was in with the football player?
Sean Gill: The Broad Side [ed.: Really? The Broadside is the George Mason student newspaper, not the movie with Sandra Bullock. That’d be The Blind Side.]
Susanna Herrick: [hesitantly] Yeah, The Broad Side. I think she was really great in that and really believable. It was not Hollywoodish at all, and I really appreciated that. From an actress who lives in that world, yeah, I respect her for that.
Sean Gill: Ok, great. [reading notes]. Well, looks like we’re wrapping up. But did you have any memories from The Crucible that you wanted to share? Anything that marks it as being “The Crucible, oh my God, thank God I did that!”?
Susanna Herrick: [laughing] I . . . like a piece that I?
Sean Gill: Well, what do you look back on?
Susanna Herrick: Uhm. I look back on the very end, when I have the last line of the show – I’ve never had that experience, I’ve never had the last line in a show before, and it’s kind of cool. It’s a really cool thing to have. When I could really hold that line and really hold my feeling for everything that had just happened in that moment, I was so happy. Yeah, I loved that moment.
Sean Gill: It was, obviously, a very powerful moment. I loved what they did with the lighting and that sort of thing. It was actually kind of a surprise when I saw that because – and I don’t mean to insult anyone when I say this – but it was a pretty minimalistic design, and just the little tricks with the lights were really nice. Was I right in the review, by the way, when I talked about the costume design? Did you have multiple costumes?
Susanna Herrick: I did, yes. It was funny because one costume was ripped and the other was not, and the bonnet was dirty and the other one wasn’t.
Sean Gill: I wasn’t real sure because my vision is absolutely horrible, and I’m sitting there thinking “I think her cuffs are dirty.”
Susanna Herrick: I loved that you said that! I loved that someone noticed that. I guess, it’s the little things, you know . . .
Sean Gill: Well, I had a friend – Christine, well, I have a friend, who did set design for film movies and talking to her, you never really realize stuff like that which just goes into small continuity. And she said that her director certainly didn’t realize it. And she would be like “you know, if you do that, then I’m going to have to do all this and this and this.”
Susanna Herrick: Oh, funny. It’s a lot of details.
Sean Gill: Absolutely. So, were all the costumes hand made?
Susanna Herrick: Oh, no, they were borrowed.
Sean Gill: They were borrowed? Ok.
Susanna Herrick: Maybe some of them were, like, tweaked or . . .
Sean Gill: They just all seemed to fit really well.
Susanna Herrick: Yeah.
Sean Gill: What was your favorite performance from the play?
Susanna Herrick: My favorite performance from the play?
Sean Gill: Like who was your favorite actor from the play? I may not publish that if you don’t want me to . . . [laughing]
Susanna Herrick: [laughing] My favorite character . . . I loved Abigail. I loved that character. She’s just crazy.
Sean Gill: She’s crazy in real life?
Susanna Herrick: No, no, she’s just fun. I really, like, enjoyed her and her character.
Sean Gill: She’s a junior in high school . . .
Susanna Herrick: Yeah.
Sean Gill: That was interesting to me too.
Susanna Herrick: Yeah, she’s very talented for being so young.
Sean Gill: And confident . . . I would’ve been, as a junior in high school, for me, I can’t imagine. Obviously your experience a little bit different, but.
Susanna Herrick: Well, it was difficult, I was Aldonza in Man of La Mancha in sophomore year, and that was daunting. But, you know, she’s great.
Sean Gill: Alright, well, I will not take up anymore of your time, then. Thank you very much for coming in for the interview. Did you have any final words or anything?
Susanna Herrick: Final words?
Sean Gill: Because we are about to execute you, after all.
Susanna Herrick: Oh dear. Uhm, actually, I know what I’m doing in the near future for my acting career. I just got a job with murder mystery theater – the dinner theater.
Sean Gill: Really, where’s that at?
Susanna Herrick: It’s Whodunit? mystery theater, and I’ll be playing, like the role of Scarlet – like in the Clue game. So I’ll be starting that very soon.
Sean Gill: Where is that at?
Susanna Herrick: They’re based in Reisterstown – Owings Mills, so they travel throughout. You have a job like every week or so.
Sean Gill: So do they travel like . . .?
Susanna Herrick: Not too far. Just around Maryland, Pennsylvania, sometimes Delaware.
Sean Gill: Well, very cool. Well, thank you so much.
Susanna Herrick: Thank you! Nice to meet you.