This letter was written to Suzan by the graduate students in DTYC at University of Texas at Austin and performed for her at a reception in her honor at the 2013 AATE conference.
We wanted you to know how much you and your work mean to the students in Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities. So without further ado, here’s a letter from us to you. These are the top 10 reasons we love you and what you do.
1. Suzan kicks off the first class of a new semester in the dark with candles lit on every desk despite the policy about no open flames in Winship.
2. Suzan is willing to admit that there are in fact bad ideas… and sometimes we have them. Alongside this is Suzan’s remarkable ability to help you grow new ideas, to invest in your crazy dreams and to push you to keep working to make your idea become a reality.
3. Suzan is a champion. Of stories. Of students. Of youth. Of pushing the boundaries in TYA. She has been in our corner, championing change and encouraging all of us to do the same.
4. If you’re looking for that special someone, a mentor or teacher to support you 100% it’s Suzan. She will go to bat for you whether you’re aware of it or not. Suzan cares deeply about the success of her students. I’ve learned that she was not afraid to stir up a little controversy in her pursuit of stories for young people. She has inspired me to do the same.
5. Suzan embraces all language beautifully (simultaneously voiced and in American Sign Language).
6. In Playwriting for Youth, Suzan encouraged us to throw out production expenses and impossibilities and write the play that was in us to write. I am now writing that play–and it has seized hold and not let go since my first semester of graduate school. Thank you Suzan, for believing in a cardboard character and a young boy whose voice was begging be heard. And thank you for believing in this new playwright whose voice was begging to be heard–and listened to.
7. Suzan gave us lines like “spit in one hand and wish in another,” characters like Wiley and Mother Hicks, stories that are not afraid of being sad or scary, for audiences of all ages that deserve to see themselves on stage.
8. You have your own Labyrinth. Who doesn’t want their own labyrinth.
9. Suzan’s mind and mouth both are known to move at the speed of light while her ears never stop listening.
10. Finally, we’ll miss having Suzan’s tireless energy around us. You’ve inspired us and challenged us. We’ll carry that with us wherever we go. We’ll pass it on to others. We’ll never really let you leave.
The toast was written by Bethany Lynn Corey, Lara Dossett, Emily Freeman, Meg Greene, Ben Hardin, Lindsay Hearn, Noah Martin, Sidney Monroe, Megan Nevels, Meredyth Pederson, Elizabeth Schildkret, Spring Snyder and Emily Thomas