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“The upshot was that she thought my writing was great but she said my play couldn’t be marketed to white audiences,” he said. “It’s too black. I know they told August similar things, but this is 2013.”
Wilder said he is grateful to Wilson for leading the way for black playwrights. He also points to other influences such as Anna Deavere Smith; Tony-winning actor and director John Kani, whom he met on a trip to South Africa, and fellow Philadelphian Quiara Alegria Hudes, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of the “Elliot” trilogy. He and Hudes’ younger sister, Gabriela Sanchez, are friends.
“He is a precocious and visionary young writer,” Hudes said. “He seems to hold a story in his heart that must be told.”
“His writing feels like that of someone who has been at it for many years,” added Ham, program coordinator for Many Voices. “He has a strong writing style, competency with structure and engaging stories.”
Far from being overwhelmed by social upheavals and the rapid change wrought by technology, Wilder said he wants to witness that history in his plays, and do so from a perspective not well represented in theater.
“You know, sometimes people think of the inner city as these damned places,” he said. “All you have to do is turn on the news and you see the burdens that we carry, the struggles. But we have the same dreams as everybody else, and the same joys. That’s what I want to do, to shine a light of understanding, care and love on my little corner of Philadelphia.”
Rohan Preston • 612-673-4390