Susan Booth

Bedazzler Extraordinaire

susan_boothSusan Booth bedazzles her audiences through a variety of vehicles: the introductions she writes for the plays staged at the theatres she manages, the work of the actors in the productions she directs and the conversations and interviews she has with luminaries and regular Joes. She is indeed an artist who appreciates the power of theatre to shape, influence and build community. With a Tony Award and several Broadway (or Broadway-bound) productions under her belt, she has proven to critics and fans alike that she has the right stuff.

Susan was raised in Ohio and moved to Chicago after earning a BFA at Denison. She studied theatre and initially planned on being an actor – as the fourth of four children she had plenty of opportunity to fight for the limelight. While undergoing a multi-disciplinary doctoral program at Northwestern, she was inspired by the idea of theatre as a means to a larger civic end: fuel for inspired conversation, a source of community and a launch pad for new talent.

Susan has been nurturing talent since 2001 when she became Artistic Director at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, taking over from the previous Director, Kenny Leon. Over the past 15 years, Susan has staged 56 (and directed 13) world premieres in the belief that a new production provides the audience a greater opportunity to meet on common ground and speak more freely about race, religion and gender. Her productions frequently feature “talk backs” to encourage discourse with the actors and among the audience.

Susan is driven to provide new voices a stage from which to broadcast. Her Collision Project created a venue for teens who have not yet found their voice. With the Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition she established a one-of-a-kind national competition for final-year candidates in the country’s leading graduate playwriting programs. The winner’s play is performed on the Alliance‘s Hertz stage.

In 2017 Susan will be overseeing the construction of an entirely new theatre for the Alliance, a structure that will support her philosophy of the democratic nature of art. During construction, Susan will once again break new ground by having each play in the 2017/18 season performed at a different cultural institution/community center around the metropolitan Atlanta area. We think Susan is the perfect captain for the Alliance’s “Season at Sea.”

On the personal front, Susan and her husband Max Leventhal met in the theatre and have collaborated on multiple stages including the Goodman in Chicago and the Alliance. Their major co-production, Moira Rose Leventhal, was launched 12 years ago and most definitely carries a variation of the Booth/Leventhal talent gene; Moira is a dancer, a skill Susan claims she lacks completely. Finally, something Susan Booth can’t do!


    1. How did you get your name?
      Not sure about my first name, but there’s a story around my middle name which is Virginia. The story goes, that having named my three older siblings, my parents were running out of ideas. So while my mom was in labor, and eating popsicles because it was June, my father wrote the names of the four streets of the block where we lived on to popsicle sticks, and had my mom draw one. Story goes, I was getting whatever street she drew. Fortunately, she drew Virginia Trail. Otherwise, my middle name could well have been Whippoorwill.
    2. What did you want to be when you grew up?
      I sort of imagined myself as an actress, but the most important thing was to excel at something none of my siblings had yet excelled at – that was most important.
    3. What do you want to be now?
      A person who is grateful for what she has, kind to the people in her orbit, and excited to meet each day. If I could be those three, I could be doing anything.
    4. If you could have a mulligan, what would you redo?
      Truthfully, though I’ve made a myriad of epic mistakes, I wouldn’t redo any of it. The great moves give you confidence; the mistakes give you humility.
    5. What are you reading currently? Book or Electronic App?
      Daniel Kahneman’s “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” a brilliant book about all the obstacles our minds put in our own way. Kindle.
    6. If you couldn’t live in America, where would you go?
      I just got back from Barcelona, and except for my truly feeble Spanish, I could move there in a heartbeat.
    7. What is the biggest challenge ahead of you?
      Every year around this time, I realize that I have in no way begun to train for the Peachtree Road race, and yet, inexplicably, I hold myself to the standard of beating my best most recent time.
    8. Which living person do you most admire?
      I deeply admire my daughter now. She throws herself into life – be at school, be at her many dance classes, be at a high diving board – with abandon, joy, and resilience that I find breathtaking.
    9. What is your greatest extravagance?
      Time to myself. My job asks me to be an extrovert; the truth is, I’m deeply introverted. I love solo time.
    10. Which superpower would you most like to have?
      Infinite patience.
    11. You’re invited to a state dinner at the White House and cannot take your spouse/significant other? Who is your date?
      My kid.
    12. Assuming you had the talent, with what musical group/artist living or dead would you most like to perform?
      So I’m a total folk music junkie. I’d be playing the guitar and singing my heart out with Sugarland.