Five Questions with
Wilson Milam

Seattle Rep Communications Manager Joanna Horowitz corners the fast-talking God of Carnage director in the Green Room for his thoughts on the play.

God of Carnage Director Wilson Milam.

God of Carnage at first glance feels different than the two plays you've worked on here—The Seafarer and Glengarry Glen Ross—and the piece you worked on through many iterations, The Lieutenant of Inishmore. What drew you to this script in particular?

Good writing. It's always comes down to good writing. I love the language intensive plays; characters who think smart, talk fast. Whoever it is: Shakespeare, Middleton, Coward, Rabe. Just tons of stuff for actors to chew on, literally in this case.

Yeah, there is a build to a crazy climax on stage. Is it fair to say you're attracted to violence in the work you direct?

I like big emotions, and stories where the characters find themselves in situations where the actions have become very, very strong. It's lovely to be able to explore that place. Is it violence? It's often explosive, but the goal is to discover what's underneath it those actions. In God of Carnage, simmering under this discussion of their children's playground mishap, is a vast reservoir of marital discomfort, thwarted dreams,denied emotions... As these begin to rise to the surface we start to get a real glimpse of what's underneath four parents trying to get along for the sake of their children.

Five Facts About Wilson

  • He grew up in Bellevue and went to the University of Washington where he studied history and comparative literature
  • He currently lives in London
  • He got a Tony nomination for directing The Lieutenant of Inishmore, which he brought from London to Broadway
  • This is his third play at the Rep: previously he directed The Seafarer and Glengarry Glen Ross
  • His first directing break came when someone gave him $600 to direct Tracy Letts' Killer Joe in a 45-seat Chicago theatre

Reza calls this a tragedy, do you think that's the case?

She called it a "comic tragedy" and I'll go along with that. I often say that much of great drama can be considered to be dark comedy, but I'll go with comic tragedy just as easily, you're in the same territory.

Why do you think she would put this in that category?

Well, Reza considers herself a moralist. She believe that all great theatre reflects the society it's written in, and her point of view isn't a always a pretty or benevolent one. Her world often turns out to be a ship of fools, but I think she loves them. Nobody's black or white, good or bad, everybody has both. I think we can identify with all four of the character in Carnage. They're all coming from a place which they can defend with an intellectual position, whether it's Alan's point of view of the world when he speaks that he believes in a god of carnage, or Veronica believing the world to be an infinitely perfectable place, or Michael's stripping himself to reveal his issues with marriage and children, and we hear background bits about his mom and dad—and we go, 'OK I know where that's coming from.'

Have you worked on any of her other plays?

No. I did see the second preview of "Art" in the original production. I happened to be in town and I walked by the theatre and they were hawking a few remaining tickets and I went in. It was amazing.