Martin Damien Wilkins is no stranger to the stage. A native from Charlotte, NC and a Duke University graduate, Wilkins has numerous of credits under his belt. He is a recent Suzi Bass Award winner for his co-direction with Freddie Ashley on Actor’s Express’ Angels in America: Millennium Approaches and Perestroika. He also recently served as assistant director to Wendy C. Goldberg on the Guthrie Theatre’s production and regional premiere of Indecent by Paula Vogel. Wilkins has also helped develop several new works. One of those credits includes assisting director Charles Randolph-Wright on workshops for creating the Broadway show Motown: The Musical.
This is not Wilkins’ first encounter with the works of Suzan-Lori Parks. Previously, he directed her recent play Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1, 2, & 3). According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Martin’s direction is “fluid and exhilarating... time flies with a fascinating precision that seldom lags or wavers.” Parks’ works are not an easy task to direct as she experiments with dramatic form and language to expose the nefarious treatment of black bodies in American history and culture. Father Comes Home is no exception to this fact. Combining the history of the Civil War with a loose-adaptation of Homer’s The Odyssey, the AJC wrote that the play “contemplates the causes of life and the value of identity, fundamental matters of duty and sacrifice and, above all, freedom.” Being familiar with the works of Parks makes Martin Damien Wilkins an ideal guest artist to helm UGA Theatre’s production of In the Blood.
Similar to Father Comes Home, In The Blood cites another well-known piece of literature as an inspiration, loosely adapting elements of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. But instead, the lead character is a very different Hester – a homeless, black mother of five trying her best to survive. In In the Blood, the characters who take advantage of Hester (such as her doctor, friend, social worker, etc) are simultaneously played by the same actors portraying her children. These kinds of eccentricities in Parks’ script are challenges only someone familiar with producing her work is capable of navigating. In the Blood opens this Friday, February 15. Get your tickets here!