Susan Wilder

January 14, 2020

Susan Wilder has worked in theater her entire professional career. With both her parents being theater professionals, she jokes she was “born in a trunk.”

Wilder first appeared on stage at age two and has been in and around theaters ever since. She worked for a theater company in New York City for eight years and another one in Alaska for 20. Her tenure in the UNCW Department of Theatre began in August 2008.

“The thing I love about theater, and it holds true for my position here at UNCW, is that no two days are the same. In theater, the needs of the production drive the calendar. At UNCW, the students and the production drive the calendar,” she said.

In addition to her regular duties as the administrative associate for the department (travel, accounting, purchasing, academic support of faculty and chair), Wilder assists with the logistics (advertising, negotiating royalties, purchasing equipment, props, paints, costumes, scenery, etc.) of 10 theatrical productions a year.

“In addition to running an academic department, we also run a theater company,” she said. “All in all, I am kept very busy. And I wouldn’t have it any other way!”

It’s all worth it when the curtains go up on opening night, which she regularly attends. “I am thrilled when I see the students get better each time,” she said.

Twice a year, under faculty mentorship, undergraduate design students have the opportunity to design mainstage shows, something most theater programs offer at only graduate levels. Wilder encourages the campus and community to come out and support the Student Lab Productions and see their amazing work.

Outside of the stage, Wilder volunteers with the Wrightsville Beach Sea Turtle Project. “This summer I was blessed to actually find turtle tracks and a clutch of eggs. Fifty-five days later as a nest ‘mother,’ other volunteers and I watched over the nest for about a week until we were lucky enough to see 77 baby sea turtles boil out of the nest and scurry into the ocean.”

-- Caroline Cropp