In the suspense thriller "Wait Until Dark," we follow a character named Susy, who is being conned by three men who believe a doll (filled with expensive contraband) is hidden somewhere in her apartment. A deadly game of cat and mouse ensues in the Good Company Players production as the criminals target Susy.
And here's the kicker: She's blind.
We caught up with Danielle Jorn, who plays Susy, via email to talk about the play, which inspired the 1967 film starring Audrey Hepburn and Alan Arkin.
Question: How would you describe Susy to a friend?
Answer: She is such a strong person. She hasn't been blind her entire life; she was recently blinded in a car accident. While it has been an adjustment period for her and she does struggle with it, she hasn't allowed it to disable her nor does she ever play the victim.
She wants nothing more than to be independent and to do things on her own. She has a great sense of humor as well. I think that's a big part of how she has gotten through losing her sight. That's something she and I definitely have in common; we both use humor to mask any sort of struggle.
Have you ever played a blind character before?
I have not! That was one of the most attractive things about this role. As we've gone through the rehearsal process, I've had to really rely on listening and feeling my way around the set. Now, obviously, I can really see, so I asked Denise Graziani, our director, if I could do a rehearsal blindfolded, to really get a grasp on what Susy is really experiencing. It was the most interesting rehearsal I've ever had. There were so many moments where I had to stop and really feel around because I had no idea where I was or how I got there! It was really helpful and allowed me to focus solely on my other senses to get me where I needed to go.
The genre of suspense has been so thoroughly mined by movies that it's almost like audiences are inured to the typical techniques: scary music, quick edits, tight point-of-view shots. What's the key to making a really good suspenseful play?
It's so interesting because we don't have the luxury of editing and multiple takes -- we've got one shot, and one shot only, to get it right and scare the wits out of people. I think the ingredients for success in this genre are very similar to any play. The acting, directing, lighting and sound have to be perfectly in sync for this to work.
There are huge chunks of this show that are entirely in the dark. The audience, in those moments, are in Susy's shoes. They have to rely entirely on what they are hearing, which is terrifying. I'm not often impressed by "gore" like most of my generation. The scariest movies/plays, in my opinion, are the ones that leave the violence up to your own imagination, which is usually scarier than anything anyone could show you. This play does just that.
What's the hardest thing for you as an actor in this play?
The hardest thing for me has been being able to see but completely ignoring it. Not seeing facial expressions or making eye contact with the other actors. If anything visually happens, if something drops, I can't just simply pick it up. It goes against all of my natural instincts. That has been the toughest part for me personally.
Anything else you'd like to say?
I can't wait for people to see this. It's not often you can go to the theater and be frightened and filled with suspense. This is one of the most well-rounded casts and crews I've worked with, so I can't gush about them enough.
I'd say I'll see you out there ... but I won't. Or at least I'll try not to!
Read an extended interview with actress Danielle Jorn at the Beehive.
"Wait Until Dark," through April 21, 2nd Space Theatre, 928 E. Olive Ave. gcplayers.com, (559) 266-0660. Tickets: $16, $15 students and seniors.
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