What She Looks Like: Susie Lamb, Actor/Writer (EIR)

Happy belated Valentine’s Day, Theatre Artist Mamas. As the February chill settles in, I wanted to take us back across the pond to Ireland, where revolutionary theatre moms are fighting to keep the fires burning, and meet one stunning lady in particular. MAM Ireland founding member and actor/mom Susie Lamb is this week’s What She Looks Like as she’s preparing to kick off her one-woman show “HORAE” premiering next week and playing February 20-26 at the Complex Live Arts Center in Dublin! (My kingdom for a flight to Ireland, PLEASEANDTHANKYOU.) This fierce mother artist has a stellar resume working in television, film, and major theaters across Ireland. She created this newest piece from research conducted herself in Sicily and Malta, exploring the history of sacred prostitution and women in hidden histories. With a combination of a MA in Dance and degree in Archaeology, Susie embodies the investigative and expressive nature necessary to create a piece so demanding of physical transcendence such as “HORAE.”

As a mother, Susie’s experience with growing her child in her body has also informed her research in the terms of a body as a temple and women’s relationship throughout history to both sacred and sexual social contexts – for the show, she explores the evolution of prostitution and devolution of female status. In this interview for What She Looks Like, Susie talks about the insecurities and strengths that motherhood provided her in preparation for her own work. From a sudden fierceness to mental stamina to resilience, Susie joins the ranks of theatre artist-mothers whose work, life, and advocacy continue to defy the reductive stereotype of the post-childbirth female and explore the possibilities and creations that can be enhanced by the motherhood experience, if anything in the sensitivity of self and honesty in expansion. I have long wanted to interview one of my Irish mother-theatre artist sisters for this series, and I couldn’t be more pleased to hear from Susie as she’s on the cusp of presenting her powerful piece:


horae-15edit
Actor/Mother Susie Lamb in the upcoming one-woman show “HORAE” Written and performed by Susie Lamb.

Name: Susie Lamb
Profession: Actress/writer
Status: One daughter, age 9

What surprised/surprises you about having a child and working your performing arts life:
The impact it had on how much I earned and the insecurity that brought. The low and erratic earnings of an artist’s lifestyle became very clear when I had my daughter, and the sustainability of the life came into question very closely. I realized why my mother said I should have married a person with a steady job! Something else I was really shocked by was how sometimes people gave me the impression that they thought I wasn’t quite capable anymore – that shocked me because I felt the opposite when it came to the work itself.

What excited/excites you about having a child and working your performing arts life:
I have more material to work with. My internal landscape has become so emotionally rich. Becoming a mother made me feel everything more deeply and in a more visceral way, so I have access to all those feelings in whatever role I take on. One of the things that surfaced in me when I had a child was a fierceness to protect- That was really invigorating for me, because I am naturally very shy, but when it comes to my daughter, my fierceness rises – and I suppose that’s a kind of power which is useful in theatre and film. Also, having a child is like running a marathon. Things I thought were physically demanding before raising a child now seem easier because my mental stamina has increased with being a mother and surviving on no sleep. I am also amazed by my resilience, and that resilience is useful for some of my other work – like writing for example. At the moment I am preparing for a one woman show that I have written, directed and am producing. The multi-faceted way of thinking is something motherhood has taught me. I don’t particularly enjoy the split focus, especially the producing, but I am able to do it now if I have to!

What challenged/challenges you about having a child and working your performing arts life:
Making a living. Keeping at it when opportunities have diminished since I have had her and believing I should keep doing it has been difficult at times. My self belief is much stronger now, but for the first few years after I had her it was challenged. But more difficult than that is other people’s perceptions of me, assuming that I have “given up” when I have in fact been working harder because there is less opportunity. That makes it more difficult. I have had to create my own work and keep knocking on doors. When I started acting people were willing to give me a break. I think it would be good for actresses who have been quiet for a while for whatever reason to also be given a break. Being an actress sometimes reminds me of having a boyfriend who doesn’t treat me very well – he doesn’t call that much, and when he does he tells me I’m just not quite right. Because my body changed so much after having a child, I was more sensitive to that. It happens anyway as you get older, but I was a bit more sensitive to it for a few years after giving birth.

What you look forward to about having a child and working your performing arts life:
My daughter gets very excited about my acting and “winning auditions” as she calls it. She has in interest in the mechanics of acting itself and I look forward to sharing that with her more as she gets older.

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What you think people should know about having a child and working your performing arts life:
It gets easier as the children get a bit older. Its really important to keep stating that you’re an actress or whatever it is, even if you’re not working on something. Finding another avenue if you are not working is really important, to keep connected to your passion, even in a small way. Then, when or if you decide to go back to work or it decides to let you, your confidence will come back more easily.


On-stage representation has a long way to go in terms of exploring the hidden women of history and modern day. Susie’s piece boldly contributes to the under-served repertoire of created work that explores the female in diverse forms and how society over time has suppressed or exalted them. Susie exemplifies the power mother-artists can have in discovering these “hidden women” and thrusting them into the light, insisting we see them and know their stories. In so doing, Susie has advocated for mother-artists by insisting on her own visibility, proving the mother artist can and should be considered an active, perceptive, and relevant participant in the theatre’s on-stage conversations.


My Favorite Quotes:

“I have more material to work with. My internal landscape has become so emotionally rich. Becoming a mother made me feel everything more deeply and in a more visceral way, so I have access to all those feelings in whatever role I take on.”

– Susie Lamb, Actor/Mother/MAM Founding Member

“Having a child is like running a marathon.”

– Susie Lamb, Actor/Mother/MAM Founding Member

“My self belief is much stronger now, but for the first few years after I had her it was challenged. But more difficult than that is other people’s perceptions of me, assuming that I have “given up” when I have in fact been working harder…”

– Susie Lamb, Actor/Mother/MAM Founding Member

“When I started acting people were willing to give me a break. I think it would be good for actresses who have been quiet for a while for whatever reason to also be given a break.”

– Susie Lamb, Actor/Mother/MAM Founding Member

“Being an actress sometimes reminds me of having a boyfriend who doesn’t treat me very well – he doesn’t call that much, and when he does he tells me I’m just not quite right. Because my body changed so much after having a child, I was more sensitive to that.”

– Susie Lamb, Actor/Mother/MAM Founding Member

“It gets easier as the children get a bit older. Its really important to keep stating that you’re an actress or whatever it is…keep connected to your passion, even in a small way.”

– Susie Lamb, Actor/Mother/MAM Founding Member


Be sure to write to me in the comments after you see Susie’s show! I cannot wait to read its impression on you.

More profiles coming soon!

If you are or you know a performing artist professional and mom who wants to share thoughts, answer these questions and shoot them to me at this contact form!

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