This month, our undergraduate acting students take to the main stage in the UW School of Drama’s production of Vaclav Havel’s The Beggar’s Opera. In the capable hands of guest director Wilson Milam, the cast of 19 is working through Havel’s absurdist and potent script.
“It’s a joy to come back to Seattle, and to bring my outside experience to the work here with these young actors and designers who are defining their course in life and learning their craft,” says Milam, a Tony-nominated director who has worked nationally and in the United Kingdom. Milam’s Tony nomination came for his direction of Martin McDonagh’s The Lieutenant of Inishmore, which he brought from London to Broadway. He has also directed several plays at Seattle Repertory Theatre, most recently God of Carnage during the Rep’s 2010-2011 Season.
“He holds us to a very high standard,” says senior Hannah Ruwe of working with Milam. “As students, it’s a really good challenge to operate and push ourselves to a higher, more professional standard.”
Spencer Hamp, another senior Drama student, is quick to add that not only is Milam pushing the cast to higher standards, he’s acutely aware that part of his role as a director at the School of Drama is to be an educator. “He’s equipping us with skills that we can use when we don’t have a director who is as careful and cares as much about his actors as Wilson does,” says Hamp. “He really wants to come alongside us and get us all to a place where the story is really clear.”