This project began for me many years ago when I was watching coverage of the conflict in Serbo-Croatia. As it unfolded, I was shocked and appalled. I couldn't believe that after the tragedy of the Nazi Holocaust the world could still tolerate 'Ethnic Cleansing.' I couldn't understand how this could be happening, and was particularly sensitive to how women have reacted to the brutality of wars over time. It seemed incongruous to me that the only way to stop violence was to increase it through greater force. Then after having children and the shock of 9-11, and the many wars that followed; my experience of the intense coverage of CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, BBC, and what seems like a constant barrage of horrors in the world, led me to become fascinated with the news and the question of how a reporter remains impartial and sane. Based upon my own experience, I felt compelled to do something to combat the sense of powerlessness of a suburban housewife in this time. This anger and frustration led me to create Sanctuary The Play.
Sanctuary was most recently performed at the Times Square International Theater Festival in 2012. Prior to that the show was performed in several venues in Bucks County (The Peace Center, Kol Emet Synagogue and Pebble Hill Church, premiered at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival in 2004.
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Review Times Square International Theatre Festival by Raluca Albu
"From my first viewing of Sanctuary, a powerful one-woman show about the universal experience of war across the centuries, I knew this was a different kind of theatre experience. Playwright/actor/ director/producer Susanne Sulby created a multimedia experience on her black box theatre stage that transported the audience straight to the jail cells of Kosovo one minute, refugee camps in Palestine the next, and suburban kitchens where an American woman (presumably herself) existentially questioned how she can reach the victims and survivors of war on the other side of her TV screen.
Tying the montages together was a combination of the wartime poetry of W.H. Auden—"Here war is simple like a monument"—and epithets from Rumi—"Not Christian or Jew or Muslim, not Hindu, Buddhist, Sufi, or Zen. Not any religion." The simplicity of the set (a scarf here, a video projected image of a sandy mountainscape there) drew attention to the timbre of her character's conviction, pain, and strength. Most importantly, it brought into focus the idea that the experience of war, the grieving involved in both experiencing it or being a helpless spectator to it, are compellingly universal messages. This message was at the heart of all the performances at the festival."
Promoting Peace Through Drama by Valerie Reed
Sanctuary: 4 Things to know about the show before you go
Back to Using her Voice by Kate Fratti