SUSAN CLAASSEN bio

Have a Heart 2022

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SUSAN CLAASSEN
Managing Artistic Director

SuzSUSAN CLAASSEN, a resident of Tucson since 1972, celebrates her 48th anniversary with the Invisible Theatre ( IT). She was the recipient of the 1982 Woman on the Move Award in the Arts, the 1985 Governor's Award for Women Who Create, the 1993 Humanitarian Torch Award for efforts on behalf of people living with AIDS, the 1994 and 1998 TUSD Superintendent's Honor Roll Award for her exceptional work with Special Education Arts Programming, and a 1996 Distinguished Service Award from the State Federation for Exceptional Children for her commitment to arts education for special populations. Susan was named as the recipient of The City of Hope's 1999 Woman of the Year "Spirit of Life" Award, was selected as one of Tucson Lifestyle's ten most admired women, honored as one of the Jewish Federation's 13 Extraordinary Women, selected as one of Tucson Pima Arts Council's 25th anniversary honorees, and recently honored as one of Arizona's 48 Most Intriguing Women. Susan has been a member of Actors' Equity Association (the professional actors' union) for 50 years.

Some of her most memorable IT roles have been Vi in NATIVES, Bella in LOST IN YONKERS, Alice B. Toklas in GERTRUDE STEIN ANDA COMPANION, The Woman in LAUGHING WILD, Hannah in CROSSING DELANCEY, Shirley in SHIRLEY VALENTINE and Trudy and all in THE SEARCH FOR SIGNS OF INTELLIGENT LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE, which also toured to Nantucket, Massachusetts. Her production of A CONVERSATION WITH EDITH HEAD is touring nationally and was featured in the 2006 Republic of Georgia International Theatre Festival, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe August 2007, and played London's West End in July/August 2008. She received a prestigious LA Stage Alliance Ovation Best Actress Nomination in 2011 for her portrayal of Edith Head, was Phoenix New Times Best Actress 2012 and was most recently nominated as Best Solo Performance by The San Francisco Bay Area Critics Association. As Managing Artistic Director of the Invisible Theatre, she has produced over 450 productions and directed over 100, including such favorites as the world premiere of LETTERS TO SALA, A SHAYNA MAIDEL, the award winning THE IMMIGRANT, LEAVING IOWA, IN THE MOOD, and MOTHERHOOD OUT LOUD.

In addition to her work with the Invisible Theatre, she has been a consultant and director for the Waterfront Playhouse and Red Barn Theatre in Key West, Florida, and directed I WON'T DANCE at NY's famed Rainbow and Stars Cabaret and St. Paul's prestigious Ordway Theatre. Susan is a member of the League of Professional Theatre Women. Susan has written and produced 2 award winning video projects: CHILDREN AREN'T WATERPROOF for the Tucson Drowning Prevention Committee and READY, SET, READ for the Tucson Public Library. Susan is a leader among Arizona arts educators and served on the disability awareness committee for Tucson Unified School District (TUSD). She has established many innovative projects, including the drama program at the state prison and Project Pastime -- an exemplary multi- disciplinary arts program for mentally challenged students that focuses on ability rather than disAbility and is the subject of the documentary SUCH GOOD FRIENDS.