Susan Zeeman Rogers is an award-winning visual artist, scenic and object designer based in New York. Susan's mixed-media artwork has been exhibited across the United States and is included in many private and public collections. The core of her artistic identity is based on the expression of impermanence and the constant flux of the world. Working as a performance designer has added the elements of time, movement and transformation to her work. Her scenic design often employs objects that can be integrated with an actor's movements. She has designed over 75 productions of theatre, opera, film and dance.
In New York, Susan has worked with New York Theater Workshop (Nat Turner in Jerusalem), The Prototype Festival (the critically acclaimed Thumbprint), New Georges, Red Bull Theater, INTAR, Mint Theater, Susan Marshall and Company, MCC Theatre, Flea Theatre, Hook & Eye Theatre, Ice Factory, IRT, One-Eighth Theatre (Teach, Teacher, Teachest), Repertorio Español and Mabou Mines Artists Residency. She is an associate artist with Ripe Time and has collaborated with director Rachel Dickstein on numerous adaptations. These include the critically acclaimed Septimus and Clarissa by Ellen McLaughlin, adapted from Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway. Other Ripe Time productions include Innocents, an adaptation of Edith Wharton's House of Mirth, Jhumpa Lahiri's The Treatment of Bibi Haldar and Sophocles' Antigone.
Regionally, Susan has designed for Los Angeles Opera, Trinity Repertory Theatre, Shakespeare and Company, Two River Theatre Company, Actors Shakespeare Project, SpeakEasy Stage Company, Opera Boston (the critically acclaimed Nixon in China), Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, Curtis Opera, Opera North, Underground Railway Theatre, ART Institute, Contemporary American Theatre Company and Moscow Art Theatre School.
Awards include a Drama League Nomination for Distinguished Production for Septimus and Clarissa (Ripe Time); Best Design, First Irish Festival for Is Life Worth Living (Mint Theatre); 2010 Elliot Norton Outstanding Set Design Award for Adding Machine, A Musical (SpeakEasy Stage Co); 1997, 2008 and 2010 IRNE Outstanding Set Design Awards; Best Design, Opera Online for The Pearl Fishers (Opera Boston), HOLA and ACE Awards for Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter and the 2000-2002 NEA/TCG Career Development Program for Designers.
Susan's design for Septimus and Clarissa was selected for the USA Exhibit at the Prague Quadrennial of World Scenography in June, 2015. She was a 2014/2015 Audrey Resident Artist and is an Affiliated Artist with New Georges.
"From the very first moments of 'Septimus and Clarissa,' Ellen McLaughlin's relentlessly, almost nerve-rackingly ambitious adaptation of Virginia Woolf's 'Mrs. Dalloway,' a bold visual gauntlet is thrown down. We are introduced to the title characters …as they pose atop and underneath a giant black staircase. Later, yards and yards of fabric from Mrs. Dalloway's much-discussed green party dress billow from high above, turning it's wearer into a melancholy figurehead on a ship to nowhere."
"…the airtight ensemble combines with Keith Parham's shadowy lighting and Susan Zeeman Rogers's set design to create a series of insightful, often haunting stage pictures …'Septimus and Clarissa' finds hypnotic poetry in the ordinary, the solemn, the rapturous and just about everything in between."
New York Times (Septimus and Clarisa)
"… and the set and property design by Susan Zeeman Rogers spare and smart."
Huffington Post (Septimus and Clarisa)
"The lessons in extreme social conservatism are so catchy and dazzlingly designed, it is impossible not to get entranced by them in the hour and a half tilt-o-whirl. The games are devised with athletic blocking by Irizarry, hilarious sound effects and a danceable soundtrack (Marcelo Anez is the sound designer), resourceful, pop-concert lighting by Lucrecia Briceno on a circus-like playground of a set by Susan Zeeman Rogers (who also designed the cartoony, colorful objects) that is just full of surprises, quirks, and innovations including hidden traps and a mini trampoline."
Broadway World (Teach, Teacher, Teachest)
"Nixon in China is an artistic triumph"
"With Opera Boston's exciting production at the Cutler Majestic Theatre, the history of the opera moves beyond the vision of the original creators into the beginning of its inheritance. Susan Zeeman Rogers's striking set is a red silk box inside a larger box of white silk."
The Boston Globe (Nixon in China)
"Opera Boston has done what seemed impossible: delivered a new production of John Adams' 1987 Nixon in China that at least equals memories of the legendary original directed by Peter Sellars. Indeed Friday's long-overdue Boston premiere of Adams' masterpiece at the Cutler Majestic Theatre must now rank as one of the finest evenings of opera in years."
Boston Herald (Nixon in China)
"Set Designer Susan Zeeman Rogers and costume designer Gail Astrid Buckley use a constrained, muted palette to echo the drab dullness of Mr. Zero's existence. And Rogers simply works wonders with the Roberts Studio space. Pleated drapery panels, imprinted with swirling numbers, define separate planes and hang from wires that also allow the swift movement of evocative bits of scenery - a subway strap, a row of coat hooks. A deep, narrow canyon cuts across the stage, serving first as the cramped office where Mr. Zero and his fellow accountants submerge themselves in numbers and later transforming into various improbable but persuasive settings in the afterlife."
The Boston Globe (Adding Machine: A Musical)
"SpeakEasy's version of the world of the play is highly stylized and seriously stunning. Scene designer Susan Zeeman Rogers literally puts Zero and his co-workers in the trenches, then combines with lighting designer Jeff Adelberg to create one "oh, cool!" moment after another, switching scenes from office to prison to the hereafter's Elysian Fields with the simplest and more evocative theatrical tricks."
EDGE Boston (Adding Machine: A Musical)
“On Susan Zeeman Rogers’ sandstone-colored, henna-tattoo-decorated groundcloth…three tall rectangular niches in the back wall, complimenting the Ohio Theater’s permanent columns, highlight our three heroines… Lovely images, such as the long saffron and orange silk banners wrapped around Kakkar like a giant flower with her glowing face at its center…
Nadya’s dilemma is ingeniously staged with a pair of transparent castered screens that nudge and spin the girl to evoke her romantic fever.”
“From the opening tableau of three women half-suspended within rectangluar openings in the back wall…it’s clear this is going to be a sensual, beautiful evening.
The first part of the trilogy based on Ms. Lahiri's story ‘The treatment of Bibi Halder’ and swathed in saffron cloths and warm lights… The second part, from Chekhov’s ‘Betrothed’ cool and white…”
New York Times (Betrothed)
"…Susan Zeeman Rogers' set literally unfolds bit-by-bit, capturing both our attention and our eye.
As the play progresses, large objects are rearranged and transformed into completely new environments; from the nooks and crannies, hidden objects, props, and even a brand new set are produced to propel the story forward."
Theatre Online (Thirst A Spell for Christabel)
"…the production does succeed beautifully…in its stagecraft. Set designer Susan Zeeman Rogers captures both the drabness of Christabel's day-to-day life and the looming power and mystery of the forest and of Enid.
The stage is framed with rough, burlap-mesh covered cutouts of trees, and tree silhouettes as a backdrop. But everything hides a secret and a potential for transformation - trees contain drawers and cupboards; Enid emerges from a drawer in a piece of furniture that mutates from a burly kitchen table to a girl's delicate bed - and just when you think all the tricks have been played out, the final scene completely transforms the space yet again.
Marrying simplicity with mystery and a touch of stage magic, the play's physical world is…perfectly realized…"
Nytheatre.com (Thirst A Spell for Christabel)
"Emerging from behind giant, wrought-iron gates (the piece de resistance of Susan Zeeman Rogers's stunning set) that signify the social barriers that keep Lily from the life she longs to lead…"
"Director Rachel Dickstein, in collaboration with scenic designer Susan Zeeman Rogers, create the most interesting visual metaphor for Innocents, the theater-dance adaptation of Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth currently running at the Ohio Theater.
Interspersed throughout the cavernous theater space are gigantic wrought iron gates. As the play swirls through Manhattan and its environs of the early twentieth century, these gates are swung by the company as the piece shifts from location to location.
When combined with the rich brocaded wall that backs the stage, and the sometimes opulent drapes that are pulled across it, the gates give one the sense of both the interiors and exteriors of the mansions that once graced Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue.
The gates also serve to emphasize the strict moral and societal order of Wharton's world as well as the sense of the inclusion felt by Innocents heroine Lily Bart, a woman born middle class, but left penniless at her father's death, who must rely on the generosity of an aunt to sustain her pretensions."
American Theater Web (Innocents)
"Susan Zeeman Rogers's sets are deliciously whimsical; the walls fold away to transform the bedroom into a sunny kitchen and shadowy basement full of spidery stuff."
The Boston Globe (Fuddy Meers)
"Designer Susan Zeeman Rogers delivers another of her marvelous confections, creating a perfect backdrop for this strange carnival world. Claire's bedroom is a shade of bubble-gum pink that would make Barbie proud, Gertie's kitchen is a neon yellow, and the basement, which acts like 'truth serum,' is the only room that boasts normal-looking items. The entire set design is built on oddly angled folding panels and swinging doors that encourage the impression that we are in a fun house, and the set changes themselves deserve to take a bow."
Boston Herald (Fuddy Meers)