Clara Hillier on navigating Susan’s blindness

When we began rehearsals for Wait Until Dark, I was completely terrified. Now as we head into tech, I’m still scared to have an audience share the Shoebox with us, but I also can’t wait to share Susan’s story.

In addition to the typical challenges of rehearsals,the play presents me with the massive challenge of portraying a newly blind woman. In the months that led up to rehearsal, I’ve been researching, reading, watching videos and meeting people that live in this world. With each book or person, I’m fascinated by the struggles and joy of a blind woman. One book in particular, Laurie Rubin’s “Do You Dream in Color? Insights From a Girl Without Sight”, speaks to who Susan Hendrix is at the heart of all the chaos and fear she encounters over the course of the play. Laurie let nothing stand in her way, be that learning how to ski to join her family on winter holidays, attending Oberlin to study voice, and facing rejection in the performing arts.

From an interview with www.out.com:
Out
: Growing up blind, how did you tap into your determination and find the power from within to keep going and continue to your goals?

Laurie Rubin: A lot of it came from just being ingrained in me, because when I was younger my family always supported everything I wanted to do, and they never told me that I shouldn’t be able to do something. They encouraged me to do everything from snow skiing to water skiing and river rafting to just going full force into singing. That and my natural feisty personality, I just don’t like to be told I can’t do something no matter what it is. And I certainly also had enough support beyond family too with teachers, mentors, and friends.”

Although Laurie has been blind from birth and the character of Susan Hendrix has only been blind for a year and half, I think the joy and fire that make up both of these woman are the really weapons they have to tackle obstacle and insecurities presented daily. Susan has her husband Sam, a fellow survivor and true partner to keep her strong and safe at the beginning of the play, but what I personally admire about the character of Susan, is that she must learn how to survive and stand on her own, without him by her side.

As we head into tech, and eventually add audience members, I stand backstage reminding myself of all that Susan has lost but also gained in the loss of her sight. She has been given the gift of truly discovering her inner strength and  purpose, and the power of trusting yourself. I do hope you’ll join us at the theater this fall!

-Clara Hillier, Susan Hendrix, NWCTC company member

Wait Until Dark presented by Northwest Classical Theater Company opens at the Shoebox Theater September 5 and runs through October 5th Thursdays-Sundays. Tickets are at www.nwctc.org.

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