Originally published in Tempo
Susana Guillaume is back in Taos, this time with her third one-woman show, “King Laz.”
The Taos community already knows her by her performance of “The Pinnacle of my French Ambition” that took place three years ago.
“I’m looking forward to performing again in Taos,” Guillaume said. “For one thing, I love Taos. There’s no place quite like it, is there? Who needs Bali or Fiji? I always have the fantasy of moving here, and the audiences are wonderful, open and appreciative.”
Guillaume originally came from England and is a longtime Santa Fe resident. She has performed her one-woman shows at Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Taos and New York venues.
Guillaume says that music has always been a basic inspiration to her. She also caught the performing bug early in life.
“I was the kind of kid who put on dance shows for strangers in hotel lobbies,” she admits, though she never imagined she could just get up on stage, be herself and talk… and that would be a solo show. “It has been a revelation,” she said. “I love to do this; it’s my vocation—if you can call something that you discover in your fifties a vocation.”
She currently teaches a dance class in Santa Fe. Making up dance routines and creating choreographies has also influenced the way she writes.
“And certainly the way I perform,” she adds. “I think it was the desire to become a dancer or a singer which led me to write. I’ve always been writing, but it was a kind of consolation prize in a way, and finally it has led me back to performance…because, underneath, I always wanted to be a performer.”
Guillaume acknowledges she has had a lot of help, coaching, and guidance since she started doing shows. “A skillful, caring director is a wonderful thing, and I’m grateful to have one, Maura Dhu Studi.” she said.
Though she enjoys writing, Guillaume isn’t the kind of writer who needs to sit alone in a room. “I like the collaborative nature of theatre and, most of all, I like to have an audience, so I always write with the idea of an audience in mind,” she said.
In “King Laz” Guillaume portrays herself and her parents as they negotiate the rocky terrain of old age, sickness and death. Lifelong family roles are rapidly reordered and reversed as Daddy drifts into dementia, Mummy stays pinned to the old family map, and Sukie, the free-spirited woman-child, is faced with daunting new responsibilities.
“I’ve been running away from my parents since a very early age, but all it means is that I’ve carried them with me everywhere I ran,” said Guillaume, adding that she had always written about them. “They have been a great source of inspiration to me.”
“King Laz,” she said, addresses this contradiction in her life, running from parents while being obsessed with them.
Guillaume considers “King Laz” her most cohesive show. “A lot of it takes place in the present, which is unusual for me,” she said. “I love writing about the past, but in this case it was all happening in the moment so access to the past seemed very fluid, very easy.”
The show was performed at Solofest in Albuquerque last July and as part of the United Solo Festival on Theater Row in New York City in November.
The story is very personal but Guillaume has noticed from the reaction of previous audiences that people identify strongly with it.
“Mostly people around my own age, who have had the experience of dealing with aging parents, difficult parents sometimes,” she said.
When people leave the show she wishes they take with them the feeling that they’ve had an opportunity to think again about their own experiences and about their own lives, truly, fully and deeply.
“I also want them to take the real stuff,” she said, “the beauty and the joy and the laughter, home with them.”
“King Laz” will be performed at The Metta Theatre, 1470 Paseo Del Pueblo Norte, May 17th and 18th at 7.00 p.m. and May 19th at 4.00 p.m.
For information and reservations call (575) 758-1104 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Online reservations must be made at least one day in advance of the performance.