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Susan Bertoia

Discipline: Theatre
Homebase: Vancouver
Languages: English
Contact Me: Email , Web

Susan's unique, invigorating and engaging approach to theatre from the classics to the avant-garde make her a well sought out theatre artist, teacher, director and devisor. She specializes in physical/movement-based theatre and mask performance including: commedia dell'arte, neutral and character. Both her professional and teaching/directing work explores poetic and pedestrian moments while her artistic leadership has been described as "engaging, encouraging and disarming". Since 2014, Susan has developed well over 15 new creative initiatives through ArtStarts' Artist in the Classroom Program including writing modern adaptations of Alice in Wonderland (Alice in the French Underground), Peter Pan (Flight to Neverland) and Gozzi's Love of Three Oranges; to more experimental and devised work with secondary theatre students including The Physical Space Project and the CT Project the latter was selected to perform at the ABCDE Provincial Drama Festival in 2016. As an award-winning actor (Jessie Richardson Award -Outstanding Performance and The Gordon Armstrong Theatre Artist Award), Susan has performed at/with the Arts Club Theatre, Western Canada Theatre, Firehall Theatre, Richmond Gateway and Boca Del Lupo. Susan also serves as a Speech Arts and Drama Adjudicator and facilitates Professional Development Workshops for both Performers and Drama Teachers. Susan has directed many diverse and multi platformed shows from children and youth engaged theatre to professional ensemble productions. Her training includes BFA in Theatre Acting from UBC and advanced studies in commedia dell'arte and physical theatre from international institutions (Dell'Arte School; One Yellow Rabbit; Frantic Assembly; etc.).


Susan is energetic, passionate, and has a real zest for movement and mask. She engaged all students in active, meaningful, powerful and creative work. Our time together was collaborative, informative, inspiring and tremendously fun! Lisa Williams, Drama Teacher, Highland Secondary School, Comox BC
I had the great fortune to collaborate with Susan Bertoia thanks to the ArtStarts Artist in the Classroom program; my students were hooked by her energy and she quickly built rapport. Susan works to support an environment of safe risk where vigorous physicality and onstage courage are valued, where group exploration and critical self-reflection are inherent to her process-oriented approach. The evocative yet minimalist performance that Susan devised with my students, The CT Project, was selected at the district level to represent our zone at the Provincial Theatre Festival at Douglas College; the impact of this show reverberates still with alumni of the program and became a memorable reference point for educators and audiences at the Festival and beyond. Nicole "Coco" Roberge, Teaching Artist, Riverside Secondary's River's Edge Theatre
Susan’s work is always real and raw. In each session, the students were challenged and pushed to create story from a variety of access points. Susan was respectful and engaging and took the time to work with each student. She approaches each workshop with energy and infuses passion into every moment, from the warm-up to the final debrief. She takes participants on a journey to create stories from authentic movement that is emotional and truthful beyond words. Her work will continue to be influential with my students and in my teaching. Lindsay Mitchell, Drama Teacher, Langley Fine Arts School, Langley, BC

Project Examples

Inside the Mask - A deeper perspective on Mask

Inside the Mask is a theatre residency with students from Burnaby's Moscrop Secondary School. Susan Bertoia, with support from drama teacher, Joan MacLean leads a series of mask and physical theatre exercises focusing on how the masks reveal the inner life of the student and/or character through body rather than words. The mask serves as a universal tool of communication. Through this process, artist and teacher work to strengthen and enrich the students' physical theatre skills. We aim to combine the explorations with mask with discoveries around devising and how one can create theatre from a physical impetus first rather than by beginning with thinking, talking or writing.

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