Last week, SheSociety had the privilege to interview lawyer turned playwright/screenwriter , Suzie Miller, an active changemaker for women, creating wonderful and enlightening productions highlighting injustices in today’s society.
Suzie worked as a lawyer in the criminal courts system where her passion for justice flourished.
“There’s a sense of performance in the courts that you just cannot deny” said Suzie. Working within the justice system she had to be very choreographed in how her story was presented, but then needed to be quick on her feet should the case move in a different direction. The similarities between stage and courtroom is something that Suzie has used to her advantage.
Accompanying her inspiring work as a lawyer, the creative in her thrived while in court. “You have to perform in a split second”, Suzie says on her career in law
Along with the performing element that transcends through both legal and entertainment industries, Suzie also carried her passion for righting wrongs to her work as a playwright. Whilst working as a lawyer and a part of the victims compensation system, Suzie always found herself drawn to the stories of those she worked with, specifically their backgrounds in domestic violence situations.
Suzie began her career transition when she became a part of the exclusive NIDA Playwright Studio, where she got the opportunity to meet and collaborate with her new community. When speaking of the playwright community she beamed with light and love, speaking on the “lovely comradery and mutual respect between playwrights”.
Over the past two years, the world has been on stand-by with the pandemic being both a financially and socially difficult time. When asked about COVID’s impact on the playwright industry, surprisingly Suzie reflects on this period as the busiest time in her working life, claiming that there has never been this much pressure on writers.
Her first play, ‘Cross-Section’, was based on 24 hours in King Cross, compiled with stories and characters developed of those people she saw go in and out of the court system. Filled with what she describes as hundreds of characters and hundreds of stories, Suzie shares how her process has evolved since her first production. She says that initially, after an idea is thought of long and hard, the creative juices flow with many back and forths between drafts and collaboration.
“You actually know when it is time to write”, Suzie says. “You get to this moment where you are filled with the story and you can see the direction of it and you have got conceptual framework…I think that’s the most important thing,” she says.
Now an award-winning playwright, Suzie’s career has definitely taken off, with her newest project; Prima Facie, being no exception. Prima Facie encompasses themes of injustice surrounding issues facing victims of Sexual Assault. Throughout Suzie’s experience in the court system, she saw first hand the gap in the system that these victims fall through, experiences that have driven her passion for spreading awareness of sexual assault, specifically against women.
“If every woman can actually relate to some version of that…then what the hell!”
Prima Facie is a one woman show starring the talented Sherridan Harbridge, a successful criminal defense lawyer named Tessa. Directed by Lee Lewis, the play shows Tessa’s journing from defending sexual assault and her engrained belief in the system to when the narrative drastically turns. The play should be something that everyone should see, showcasing the problem our Australian court system currently has when defending victims of sexual and domestic violence.
Prima Facie has already accredited Miller with honourable accolades including winning three AWGIE awards last year for Prima Facie, as well as receiving the 2020 David Williamson Prize for Outstanding Theatre Performance, an incredibly well deserved acknowledgement.
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