Excerpt from Susan Lucci’s Book: All My Life
During my high school years, I was lucky enough to have a most enthusiastic and outstanding drama teacher as my first acting teacher. Inez Norman Spiers was legendary at Garden City High School. Mrs. Spiers gave our school the greatest gift by creating a drama department and theater group called Masquers that was one of the finest programs a public school could offer.
Despite the fact that our school tended to focus more on academics and sports than the arts, the drama program was second to none. Mrs. Spiers had curly red Lucille Ball–style hair that was cut short and cropped close to her head. She wore green nail polish and was quite a colorful character in her presentation. As a teacher, she gave me such an incredible head start.
I was 13 years old when I took my first class with Mrs. Spiers, and I continued to study with her until I graduated high school in 1964. She always had her students rehearse plays the way they do on Broadway and the way the protracted process works on television with a table read and blocking. She taught us to dissect scenes from beginning to end so we could understand not only the work but the meaning as well.
Mrs. Spiers thought it was crucial to understand all areas of theater, so she taught us to apply theatrical makeup and to engage in role-playing, movement exercises and character work. She also encouraged us to learn as much about the behind-the-scenes work of set design and construction as we could. Mrs. Spiers took no prisoners. She was tough and expected her students to comply with the high standards she set for us. She was a strict teacher who placed many demands on her students, but all of them were in line with what we would need to do as professional actors someday.
I was very lucky that Mrs. Spiers took to me right away. She believed in me and encouraged me to pursue acting from the very start. I was always cast in the various productions, playing a variety of leading roles throughout high school, which was wonderful. Mrs. Spiers had us performing everything from The King and I to Noël Coward. The woman was incredible to offer that type of diversity in high school.
|Actor||Tis the Morning||1988-89 Season|