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Julian Wiles, Founder and Producing Artistic Director
Marybeth Clark, Associate Artistic Director

October 14, 2009

Susie Hallatt, Madame Arcati in Blithe Spirit

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 11:35 am

Q:  Susie, how did you approach the role of Madame Arcati?

A: “Time is the reef upon which all of our frail mystic ships are tossed.” Wow. How the heck do you say something like that without bursting into laughter? But Madame Arcati spouts psychic babble like this for much of the play, so I knew from the start that I would have to take her very, very seriously to make it work.

The English have this wonderful fondness for eccentricity, and since I’ve always had the same soft spot for folks who are a little “odd”, I actually found it very easy to slip into Madame Arcati’s skin. I just have to be careful not to take her up to grandness every time she opens her mouth – her every line seems to scream BIG, LOUD, EXCESSIVE. Julian has helped me rope her in and keep her grounded, which I think has really added to the comedy in her character.

I work very hard on getting each line as close to word-for-word as I can, because Coward is one of those playwrights that had a plan for every phrase, a reason for every word choice. According to Coward himself, he wrote this play during a holiday in Wales in just five days, and only two lines of dialogue were removed before its first production in London! Blithe Spirit is like an intricate puzzle, and to get the picture right every piece has to be in exactly the right place.

I adore Arcati. This is a woman who wholeheartedly believes that she has this gift, and that she is meant to share it whenever someone needs her. Such a simple soul with a generous heart; she is a joy to inhabit for two hours every evening. I shall miss her next week…


Susie Hallatt as Madame Arcati in Blithe Spirit



Susie Hallatt as Madame Arcati in Blithe Spirit


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