IU Bloomington graduate and one-woman show performer Susan Bennett is ready to take the stage in Indy to perform “I Said No” this month.
Bennett graduated in theatre, but put her dreams on a shelf for a very long time while raising her five daughters. She became an empty-nester and has decided to take those dreams of hers off of that shelf.
“I wondered ‘what do I want to do for the rest of my life?’ I just took my dreams off the shelf,” she said.
Her first step in following her dreams was deciding to go to Indianapolis School of Supernatural Ministry.
“I wanted to become one of those real Christians, not just a pew sitter,” she said. “Out of that school my dream came back to me and God wasn’t done with me yet.”
Two years ago she decided she wanted to do a one-woman show about God, her relationships and her life.
“Acting was something I always enjoyed, I always wanted to do a one-woman show,” she said. “So I needed to write a show; I had all of these ideas in my head but I didn’t know how to get it on paper. I found a woman from Santa Fe, New Mexico who helps people with solo performances. I signed up for her boot camp and hammered out all of these things in my heart to talk about; all these aspects of my life and out of that we took one moment and built the show around that one particular moment.”
She wrote out a rough script. For the Fringe Festival in Indianapolis the script had to be around 45 to 60 minutes long. The Fringe Festival is an annual Theatre Festival and a year round theatre for emerging artists and new work.
“My script was 55 minutes,” she said. “We then decided I needed a director. I found a director who is with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Theatre Company, he read a portion of my script and he wanted to direct me, he was on the same page with me. He understood how important this was for me.”
They started the rehearsal process in Oct. 2012.
“I stepped out in preparation for Aug. 2013; I jumped off the cliff into the unknown, did marketing and publicity, all of those little pieces to the puzzle are really important in marketing yourself,” she said. “I did the festival and had great reviews.”
“I Said No” is about moments of Bennett’s life; her childhood, her teenage years, her young adult years, older adult years all the way up to five years ago.
“I weave the story line through moments of my life that have a profound effect and consequences,” she said. “There’s moments when it’s fun and when it’s sad. I’m very proud of what I created because it has a lot of substance and it has a theatrically high quality structure, but I didn’t know it was going to be that good.”
Bennett has touched many people with her show.
One man came to her after a show and said ‘I couldn’t stop talking about your show to my wife; you’ve made me want to be a better man, a better husband and better father.’
“I’m thinking ‘wow I was blown away by that,’ I knew it would speak to women but it has profoundly spoken to men,” Bennett said. “Men come to me afterwards and say profound things or are speechless; it seems to give them a lot to think about.”
Jeffrey Pitts Jr., who has seen Bennett’s show, says he all ages can get something out of it.
“One of the main reasons why I love the show is because it opens up your eyes to see what people go through,” he said. “When you sit down and see someone pour it out in a play and art, it opens up a whole another realm of seeing inside someone else’s life. I think the play would help marriages; it made me feel like things she has been trying to say for along time can now be heard through the art of her play.”
Bennett says her show is a ride of emotions, the audience never knows what is going to happen.
“When you go to a movie the most disappointing thing was knowing how it’s going to end, you didn’t know how this is going to end,” she said. “It all comes together and makes sense, so I’m very proud of that. People go away thinking about the show. They go away encouraged.”
Bennett used to do stand-up comedy but realized there was no substance to it. She does have some comedy in her show but she wants people to go away thinking about their lives, to think about something different.
“What I want people to take from it is that we all have stories and often times our stories are all the same, our lives are really similar to one another; it’s how we respond to it and how we manage it that makes a difference,” she said. “It’s never too late to live your dreams. You only fail when you stop trying. I didn’t give up and I’m encouraging anyone wherever they are to never give up.”
Bennett is always looking for more venues to perform at but she has only done shows in Indianapolis so far.
She is writing another show right now, and will be entering into the Fringe Festival for 20124; Indy’s 10th anniversary for it being here.
“I would like to do more Fringe Festivals but I can do my show anywhere; I can do it for a secular audience, for a church function or for a whole bunch of men or women,” she said.
Her next show will be at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 24 at the CRF building, 4004 North Girls School Road in Indianapolis.
Her next show will be Creekside Ministries presents: I said NO!! at 7:30 p.m. March 29 at 10501 Hague Road in Fishers. Tickets are $10 at the door or go to the website for advance ticket purchase; www.Creeksidefishers.org.