BWW Interviews: Bryan-Keyth Wilson Talks Playwriting, Eklektix Theatre Company, and The Wilson School
Bryan-Keyth Wilson first made a bleep on my radar this past theatre season when I attended my first show produced by Eklektix Theatre Company. He is continually proving to be a force in the Houston area that is turning heads and doing a lot of big things. To list a few of his credentials, he is a writer, artistic director and founder of Eklektix Theatre Company, and the founder of The Wilson School of Acting & Musical Theatre. Bryan-Keyth Wilson took time out of his busy schedule to fill me in on his writing career, and to let me know what we can expect to see from The Wilson School and Eklektix Theatre Company in the near future.
BWW: You have quiet an impressive bio, tell me when did you decide that you wanted to make a life in theatre?
Bryan-Keyth Wilson: You know, it all started at age five. I remember when I was a little boy, I used to watch the H.E.B. Thanksgiving Day Parade. I remember I was sitting watching the end of the parade at my grandmother's house and there was this big old black woman with this huge fur coat on, and they said that she was a Houston native. She had just won a Tony Award for her portrayal of Effie White in DREAMGIRLS. It was Jennifer Holiday. She performed her song "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going." They were saying, "If you love this performance, you're going to want to come out and see this production that's coming to Jones Hall." That's when Jones Hall did musicals. (Laughs) So, I went and saw the show with my parents, and I literally said, "That's what I want to do for the rest of my life."
I wanted to be able to be in a theatre and move people the way that she did, and just to be able to be in the same space with the people that wanted to witness what you're putting on the stage. That's just an epic thing. From then on I have just dedicated every minute I had to dance classes, voice lessons, being in shows, and really just trying to learn everything about this business. I wanted to learn everything that I could about it at five years old. That, to me, is when it all started.
As I grew up, I really began to understand how powerful the theatre is, and it's not just about the performance. It's not just about the show. You have an opportunity to touch the lives of people, and you may even have the opportunity of changing the ways someone is thinking or to introduce them to a new culture. Just to know how powerful our position is as theatre artists, that's where a lot of us miss the mark about our goals. We have a powerful role in this world as theatre artists, and I think that's what even made me more so just want to go and excel, be great at it, and go to New York and do everything that I did.
BWW: You released your first play NO WAYS TIRED during your first year at Sam Houston State Univeristy. You have also written the novel Hood Boy Chronicles. When did you decide that you wanted to also be a writer?
Bryan-Keyth Wilson: I remember when I was in college and one of my professors, Dr. James Miller, said that it takes experience and life for you to be able to create something that people really care about. I was thinking, well I've had a very interesting experience growing up in the church and growing up having two parents that worked their butts off to get all of their children through college. I believed that I had to look back at my life, and once I did that the stories came. I never thought, and it still baffles me to this day, that I have stories like that inside of me. That's how I know that there is some kind of divine connection there. I never thought that it would be me to be a writer, or a playwright, or anything like that. I just wanted the stage. That's it. I just wanted to sing, act, dance, and even direct and choreograph.
Once I wrote that show and one of my professors read it and deemed it as being producible (Laughs), I wrote it, directed it, and cast it. It was truly an awesome experience. It was at that moment, with the audience. Whenever you hear somebody laughing, or you hear people crying at a scene or a monologue that you have written, that's how you know that the call is bigger than you. That's when I realized, "Okay, I guess I am a writer. I get it."