Thoughts on being yourself from Susan Blackwell

The current Diva Watch column has a great interview with Susan Blackwell from [title of show].  I thought the follow excerpt might cause a spark of recognition for a number of cabaret performers.

Question: How would you describe the feeling of playing yourself in the show?
Blackwell: I’ll tell you, when I was younger, I marveled at people who could go onstage and be themselves with ease and grace. Someone that comes to mind is Janeane Garofalo. I remember watching Janeane Garofalo doing her standup and I thought, “It’s crafted and it’s well written, but that’s a lot of her.” To have the self-possession to be able to stand onstage and be yourself seemed very far away from me. I was a character actress who wanted to have a dialect, I wanted to have a hunchback, I wanted to have crazy false teeth. I wanted to sort of disappear, and I took a lot of pride in being able to do that. … I got in a lot of trouble when I was a younger person because I always wanted to play men’s roles. I just wanted to do things that were far away from myself. As I have aged — and also, frankly, as I have had a lot of therapy and gotten to know myself better and become much, much more comfortable with myself — I’ve become much more comfortable playing myself. Now it’s just a pleasure to get to go onstage and be myself. The other thing is, I’m actually quite an introverted person, and I’m a very shy person around people that I don’t know. Doing this play has been an interesting experience because the way that I behave in the play is a distillation of the way that I behave when I am around people that I am extremely comfortable with and that I trust implicitly. What audiences are seeing is a version of me that really I had only shared previously with my husband and my closest friends. Doing that on a nightly basis over an extended period of time has made me braver to be myself on a more consistent basis with people that I don’t know. It’s been therapeutic in a way because I feel like I can be more myself more of the time, and that has been an enormous gift. To know that people will be, for the most part, accepting of that and actually that people embrace that. Previously, I had just thought I was an extremely acquired taste. [Laughs.] And, I’m sure, for many people, I probably still am, but maybe I’m not as much of an acquired taste as I had previously thought.

One Response to Thoughts on being yourself from Susan Blackwell

  1. Marianne Glass Miller says:

    Michael, thank you for this little gem from Susan Blackwell (whom I don’t know, but now am very interested to hear). To me, this really is the essence of cabaret (and maybe of life!): being comfortable enough in your own skin to simply be you. As Barbara Cook put it concisely: you are enough. What a great mantra! Love, Marianne

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