Gulfshore Playhouse will jumpstart the second half of their 10th Anniversary season with their first World Premiere. The God Game, playing January 17 through February 9, focuses on Tom, a Virginia Senator and a rising star in the Republican Party. He’s asked to join the ticket as the Vice-Presidential candidate. The only catch: he needs to sound “more Christian” on the campaign trail. Will he sacrifice his firmly held belief that faith and religion are private matters or give up an opportunity to govern the most influential country in the world? Privacy, politics, and public personas take center stage in this world premiere drama by a hot new American playwright.
The God Game will be presented by Gulfshore Playhouse in association with Capital Repertory Theatre in Albany, New York. Playwright Suzanne Bradbeer will be in residence in Naples for the entire rehearsal process and the first weekend of performances, working with the Gulfshore Playhouse creative team. Following each performance the weekend of January 17th, Suzanne will participate in audience talkbacks where she will ask the audience for feedback based on what they have seen on the stage. Then, she will travel to Albany in April to repeat this process at Capital Repertory Theatre. Life in Naples had the opportunity to talk with Suzanne about her theatre experience and how she is looking forward to working on The God Game in Naples this month.
Life in Naples: Where are you from originally?
Suzanne Bradbeer: I was born in London (English Dad) and grew up in Charlottesville, Virginia.
LIN: When did you first get bitten by the theatre bug?
Suzanne: My parents were taking a sabbatical year in New Zealand. I was approaching my senior year at Augustana College, but I decided to postpone it and take the year in New Zealand with my family and study at the local college – the University of Otago in Dunedin. I had no expectation or even desire to transfer credits, I just wanted to take whatever struck my fancy, to learn for learning’s sake. So I enrolled in a Latin class, a philosophy class, and a drama class – a lot – enough so that when I returned to Augustana I auditioned for the fall play: When You Comin’ Back, Red Ryder? And it was that experience in Red Ryder, playing the unhappy and uptight violinist Clarisse, that really hooked me.
LIN: When did you first break into the business professionally?
Suzanne: I would say it was when I was invited to the wonderful New Harmony Project in 1999, to workshop my play Full Bloom. From that conference, one of the other writers recommended the play to the artistic director of Barrington Stage, Julie Boyd, and she premiered the first production of the play in 2000.
LIN: What is your favorite theatre experience?
Suzanne: That’s a tough one to choose! For today I’ll say this: I was part of a small theater company for a number of years – it was all blood, sweat, passion, and zero money. We were united by our love of storytelling and we had found a simpatico group in each other. I was still a new writer, but the artistic director, Linda Ames Key, commissioned me to write a play for the resident company, with the understanding that the play would get produced by them-us. So I wrote a play (Rita Fay Pruitte, now called The Sleeping Girl), and tailored each of the six roles to six members of the company. It was a magical and funny and sad play about forgiveness and grace and letting go. Also, it had mermaids. The rehearsal process of that play and working with those people was one of the most joyous projects I’ve ever been a part of.
LIN: What are you most excited about premiering The God Game here in Naples?
Suzanne: It seems pretty darn glorious to be spending January on Florida’s Gulf Coast. I’m also wildly excited about our cast and working with Kristen Coury. Kristen and I have had many conversations about the play and I love her questions and observations, her instincts and her collaborative spirit.