Black-Eyed Susan (actress)

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Black-Eyed Susan (born Susan Carlson) is an American actress based in New York City. She works primarily in Off-Off-Broadway theater in New York and has worked with numerous important downtown figures and companies, such as Charles Ludlam, Ethyl Eichelberger, Mabou Mines, John Jesurun, Jim Neu, and Taylor Mac. She was born in Shelton, Connecticut.


Black-Eyed Susan studied theater for one year at Emerson College, then transferred to Hofstra University, where she completed her degree.


While she was studying at Hofstra, she met fellow student Charles Ludlam, who cast her in one of his early plays. In the 1960s, after completing school, she moved to Manhattan. In 1968 she was rehearsing for a Theatre of the Ridiculous production directed by John Vacarro, in which Charles Ludlam was also involved. During the rehearsal for that play, Vacarro and Ludlam had a disagreement, after which Ludlam left the company and began his own production of the play, titled When Queens Collide. Black-Eyed Susan left with Ludlam and she became a long-time friend, collaborator, and actor in Ludlam's work for the next 20 years.[1]

During her time working with Ludlam she met and began to collaborate with Ethyl Eichelberger.[2] Eichelberger wrote the play Saint Joan for Black-Eyed Susan following Ludlam's death in 1987.[3]

In 1989 Stuart Sherman made a short film about her titled Black-Eyed Susan: Portrait of an Actress. [4]

She has also worked with numerous other avant-garde theater artists such as Mabou Mines, John Jesurun, Jim Neu, and Taylor Mac. Although she acted in the film Ironweed, she has always preferred acting in the theater.

Black-Eyed Susan received a 2014 Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award.


  1. ^ Shewey, Don. "BLACK-EYED SUSAN: LA DAME AUX RIDICULOUS", Village Voice, 1986. Accessed September 30, 2013.
  2. ^ Gussow, Mel. "Ethyl Eichelberger, Performer, 45; Creator of a Gallery of Characters", The New York Times, August 14, 1990. Accessed September 30, 2013.
  3. ^ Gussow, Mel. "Stage: 2 Eichelberger 'Classics'", The New York Times, August 18, 1987. Accessed September 30, 2013.
  4. ^ "Black-Eyed Susan: Portrait of an Actress", Internet Movie Database, Accessed September 30, 2013.

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