I’m relatively new to the Michigan theatre scene, having only moved here two years ago to pursue my PhD here at Wayne State. But Tuesday the 21st I got a crash course in that very scene when I was a plus one to the 11th annual Wilde Awards at the Berman Performing Arts Complex – sponsored by Between the Lines and META. After about two hours of celebration, camaraderie, inside jokes, and a pretty hilarious performance of excerpts from Robocop: The Musical to boot, I can tell you that there is a lot to get excited about here. Now one of the sad facts about being in theatre is that the more theatre you’re doing, the harder it is to go see it, so I hadn’t seen any of the shows that were nominated for anything. But what I did see was a vibrant community so full of passion, mutual respect and joy that I am determined to do better in the coming year. If these are the people making theatre in this area, I want to be a part of it!
And you know who IS a part of it? Well, here’s the part where I do a little Hilberry horn tooting: Brian Scruggs (3rd Year MFA lighting designer) and Peter Prouty (MFA Acting alum 2011) both won Wilde awards at this ceremony (Best Design – Lighting for Michigan Shakespeare Festival’s The Winter’s Tale and Best Performance, Actor – Original One-Act Comedy or Solo Performance for Oh Hell! at The Abreact respectively)! Very cool! But let me tell you what I think is even cooler: you see, the Hilberry had a few nominations, and though they didn’t end up winning, they were still in excellent company and represented the work we do here very well. Truly – in company like this it IS an honor to be nominated. But now I’m getting to the super cool part: both Brian and Peter were nominated and won for work that they did outside of the Hilberry. “Why is that so cool?” you might ask me. And I would respond, “for the students of the Hilberry, great art doesn’t end at our door.” These guys are taking the skills and the love that they cultivated with us here out into the big wide world, and they’re doing their Hilberry roots proud! Of course, I would have loved to see the Hilberry take home some awards in name, but I truly believe they took home these awards in spirit.
As I watched the pre- and post-show schmoozing, it was clear with every handshake and hug how well liked and well respected are these two Hilberry men…and by extension, so many of their fellow Hillberians who have struck out into the theatre world on their own. And, for me, my experience at the Wilde Awards was a great reminder not only of the high status of the Hilberry in the professional theatre community here in Michigan, but of the great responsibility we have as an educational institution as well. We don’t just make art here… we shape ARTISTS… the artists that are going to be shaping art throughout Michigan… the US… the world… the UNIVERSE (you know that first professional theatre on Mars is going to have a Hilberry alum involved)…
So congratulations to Peter Prouty and Brian Scruggs! I can’t wait to see what you guys and the rest of our classmates do next!
-Jen Goff, 3rd-year PhD Directing