The Understudy

by Theresa Rebeck
directed by David Kennedy
December 29, 2010January 30, 2011

Giving Thanks to the Wilma

By Ashley Alter


I love meeting new people. While other individuals may shy away from the getting-to-know-you dribble, I excitedly anticipate being asked what I do. I’m smitten with my Fellowship and, if nothing else, working at a professional theater, and in addition, living in actor housing, is always a great conversation piece. As it is Thanksgiving, I thought I’d take this opportunity to brainstorm what I’m most thankful for in relation to the Wilma, from the more material to lofty:

1. Comps and discounts to artistic productions inside and outside of the city.

2. Opening and closing nights – revelry in the wake of our collective artistic achievement!

3. Access to a library of stimulating literary, photographic, and artistic materials and individuals whose job it is to help you research and explain these resources to you.

4. Becoming a part of Philadelphia’s artistic community.  

A. For example, the other night I went out with someone who works concessions at the Wilma. In a small bar, above an Ethiopian restaurant in West Philly, I met a sculptor, creative writer, actor, music historian, and classical composer. By the end of the night I had debated Leonardo versus Raphael’s hand in the development of erotic portraiture as a genre; early music performance practice and instrumentation with another academic; and found new repertoire for my voice part, written by the local composer.

B. Everyone who works in the Wilma offices has a craft beyond the 10-6, an interesting life outside of work just waiting to be discovered: photography, figure skating, fine art, playwriting, book reviewing, improv comedy…

C. For Macbeth alone the influx of new ideas and creative minds was incredible: composers; lighting, costume, sound, and set designers; a text coach; movement and fight directors; etc. All of these individuals, from different backgrounds, perspectives, and parts of the world, converged at 265 South Broad Street to create a unified vision.

5. Feeling that what I do matters.

I am incredibly fortunate and proud to work for an organization in which I believe. The Wilma stays true to its mission statement and creates productions which tug at the modern conscience and tempt us to question human nature, culture, and ourselves. In addition, beyond building future audiences, its commitment to Education and Outreach has instilled a new-found sense of agency and possibility in a number of the students. When I entered FitzSimons yesterday, a school in which I help lead a residency, a student greeted me with a hug. Nothing feels better.

Ashley Alter is the Education Fellow. Visit our Education Department and upcoming productions at the Wilma to learn more!

Picture by Mark H. Dahl.


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