The primary Stages Off-Broadway Oral history Project

Celebrating the visionaries who created New York's vibrant Off- and Off-Off-Broadway theater.

Black-Eyed Susan

Black-Eyed Susan

Ridiculous Theatrical Company, Actress

Interviewed on: Wednesday, January 13, 2016
Location: Primary Stages Offices
Interviewed by: Casey Childs
Interview #58
"[Charles Ludlam] came to watch me make up, and I had a black eye, it was self-induced … I was trying to erase the black eye and he said, ‘No! Put black on it, make it darker … I think we’re gonna call you Black-Eyed Susan’."
Black-Eyed Susan Highlights
Video Length: 5 minutes, 31 seconds
Black-Eyed Susan
Video Length: 1 hour, 46 minutes

Black-Eyed Susan is an Off-Off-Broadway actress who was featured in countless Charles Ludlam plays as a part of the Ridiculous Theatrical Company. Some of the plays include: WHEN QUEENS COLLIDE (1967), EUNUCHS OF THE FORBIDDEN CITY (1971), CAMILLE (1973), BLUEBEARD (1975), THE VENTRILOQUIST’S WIFE (1978), REVERSE PSYCHOLOGY (1980), SECRET LIVES OF THE SEXISTS (1982), THE ARTIFICIAL JUNGLE (1986), and MEDEA (1987). She appeared in more of Ludlam’s plays than any other actor except Ludlam himself; however, she was not limited to Ludlam plays. Her most recent performance was in Mallory Catlett’s THIS WAS THE END (2014), which earned her the Foundation of Contemporary Arts “Grants to Artists” Award. She has also performed with Mabou Mines and the playwrights John Jesurun and Jim Neu. Susan’s career in Off-Off-Broadway has garnered an OBIE Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance (1987) and a Villager Award for Outstanding Performance (1987).

Black-Eyed Susan was born in Shelton, Connecticut and moved to New York City while studying at Hofstra University. It was there she met Charles Ludlam and premiered in her first Ludlam play, BIG HOTEL (1967). Although Black Eyed Susan primarily appeared on stage, she also appeared in films. Her film credits include The Sorrows of Dolores (1986), Ironweed (1987, in which she acted alongside Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson), Bloodhounds Of Broadway (1989), and the Stewart Sherman documentary Black-Eyed Susan, A Portrait Of An Actress (1989).

Mentioned in Interview

Charles Ludlam, Mary Brecht, Stewart Sherman, Mario Montez, John Jesurun, Jim Neu, Mallory Catlett, Jack Nicholson, Meryl Streep, Mabou Mines, Truck and Warehouse Theatre, Ridiculous Theatrical Company, WHEN QUEENS COLLIDE, EUNUCHS OF THE FORBIDDEN CITY, THIS WAS THE END, BLUEBEARD, CAMILLE, MEDEA, SCROOGE, THE VENTRILOQUIST’S WIFE, SECRET LIVES OF THE SEXISTS, THE ARTIFICIAL JUNGLE