Susi Damilano, Producing Director, SF Playhouse

Susi & Bill

Susi Damilano & Bill English, Founders of The SF Playhouse

Susi Damilano, Producing Director and co-founder of The SF Playhouse in San Francisco’s Theater District, loves her work.  It’s her way of making a difference in the world.

“Bill [English] and I fell in love with theatre as a full experience.  Nothing beats a show where the actors open their hearts so wide that it’s palpable; it brings me to tears — even at comedies.  We want that experience every time we go to theatre and decided to start our own because we felt it was missing in many of the shows we went to see.  The opening of the heart comes from the actors to the audience and back again.  It happens because people feel safe and welcome. And for us it all boils down to one word ‘Yes.’   We say yes to sharing and giving our stories in hopes of enriching and growing as we all journey through this life together, conscious of our connections.

Seeing Les Miserables – her first live theatre – was all Susi Damilano needed to be hooked for life.

“I couldn’t believe it was all happening on a stage, that it was pretend and yet I bought into every moment, the water, the battles, the emotions…I started seeing a lot of theatre and when I was 32 took my first acting class.  There just isn’t anything better than sharing a live experience.”

When the time was ripe to build her own company, Susi selected San Francisco because “It’s the most beautiful city in the world!”  With dedication to an intimate theatre experience for audiences, she embraced the many tasks required to build the award-winning SF Playhouse.

“Being a producer is definitely a multiple-hat-wearing job, and I’d have it no other way.  I love being the director one moment and usher the next; it keeps me connected.  We’ve created a family environment, a community that includes the actors, designers, staff and patrons.  Everyone looks out for one another.”

With a tweaked name (The San Francisco Playhouse) and a new location (450 Post Street), Susi is literally on the move, and it looks like the audience is ready to move to the larger space with a newly renovated stage.  The goal is to go bigger while maintaining the intimacy audiences appreciate about the Playhouse experience.

“When we were asked to consider moving to the Post Street Theatre, the timing could not have been better. We have been playing to sold out houses all season and now can double our size and share our stories with more people.

It’s also an incredible space in the heart of the sf theater district with beautiful Spanish architecture, located inside the Kensington hotel.  To retain our intimacy, we will reconfigure the seating so no one is more than nine rows from the stage. To have all this for our Tenth Anniversary is a dream come true.”