At the PWC this week: Josh Wilder

Jerome Fellow Josh Wilder is at the Playwrights’ Center this week, workshopping Superstar with director Randy Reyes, dramaturg Christina Ham, and actors Theo Langason, H. Adam Harris, Nike Kadri, Casey Hoekstra, Kurt Kwan, and Sarah Ochs. We asked Josh a few questions:

What playwriting advice do you have for others?

Listen. Listening requires more energy, more life force; it’s more than just hearing. Our ears are constantly trying to filter out what we want to hear versus what we have to hear. Listening is vulnerable, powerful, urgent—dangerous, but it forces us to be present with what or who is in front of us and inside of us. That’s why theater is such an intense experience for me, it makes me listen and it makes me respond truthfully.

Who or what inspires you?

What inspires me is this new renaissance of Black theater artists who are creating their own work and spaces for our stories to be told. To be in the trenches of this ancient creative force has been nothing but a dream. There’s so much love and intention into what we do that it can’t just be one of us that makes it. It has to be all of us. Especially my generation! We dream fiercely, we dream out loud, and most importantly we do the work. That sets me on fire.

What kind of theater or art excites you?

I’m excited by the type of theater that challenges me; paralyzes me; and gives me the space to look within myself. It’s like looking at a painting or experiencing love at first sight. I remember when I studied abroad in South Africa and witnessed Xhosa actors channel their ancestors on stage before the play even began. It was trilling! Though we spoke different languages, I understood what was being communicated to me and to the community at large. I had to work for that message—that word. That’s what I always want when I step into a theater.

Josh Wilder