May 7, 1986 |
The 1984 that the Wilma Theater unveiled last night makes a strong impact as a piece of multimedia theater, a horror story told in the manner of a nightmare. The production is also an expressive and engrossing summing-up, politically and aesthetically, for artistic director Jiri Zizka, the Czechoslovakian emigre who knows whereof George Orwell speaks in this vision of the totalitarian state in absolute triumph. So does Pavel Kohout, the exiled Czechoslovakian playwright whose adaptation is used.
April 23, 1992 |
Mayor Rendell yesterday called on a group of the city's top business leaders to support the Wilma Theater as "one of the key portions of the Avenue of the Arts project. " His administration, he said, is "committed to making a reality" of "an arts and culture district second to none. " The mayor made his pitch to about 50 representatives of the business and cultural communities, who assembled in the 31st floor atrium of the ARA Services Building on Market Street. The Wilma staged the event to give impetus to its capital campaign, now in its fourth year, aimed at raising $6 million for a new 300-seat theater at Broad and Spruce Streets.
December 6, 1996 |
In the cold, hazy light of a December afternoon, Blanka and Jiri Zizka stood at a podium gazing out over a small and buzzing crowd assembled at the northeast corner of Broad and Spruce Streets. This was The Day for the Zizkas, Czech emigres whose theatrical visions have driven the once-obscure and tiny Wilma Theater in less than two decades to critical acclaim and national prominence, and now on this day, to a new official home nestled within a spanking slab of a parking garage on South Broad Street, the Avenue of the Arts.
September 10, 1997 |
Capping a successful season that began with a move to a new performance space, the Wilma Theater yesterday received 19 nominations for 1997 Barrymore Awards for theatrical excellence, more than any other Philadelphia-area theater. Each of the company's first four productions in its new theater at Broad and Spruce Streets on the Avenue of the Arts received at least one nomination. Avenue X received nine nominations, Quills six, Arcadia three and The Ruling Class one. The Walnut Street Theatre garnered the second most nominations with 14. It was followed by Bristol Riverside Theatre (10)
January 26, 2012
The Wilma Theater posted a banner across its website late Wednesday to announce that Jiri Zizka - a cofounder of the modern Wilma on Broad Street and a major force in Philadelphia's evolution as a vibrant city for live theater - had died. No details were posted and no one was reachable at the theater after 10:30 p.m., when word of the posting began to spread. Zizka, with his wife, Blanka Zizka, came from Czechoslovakia and formed a relationship with the theater company they would take over and move into new directions.
July 13, 2013 |
Wednesday night, the Wilma Theater hosted the world premiere of Beautiful Decay , the first evening-length work commissioned by Philadelphia's BalletX from the gifted, prolific, and internationally sought-after American choreographer Nicolo Fonte. As its title suggests, this work is about the passage of time and finding beauty in unexpected places. To make this point, Beautiful Decay features, in addition to BalletX's company members, Philadelphia dance legends Brigitta Herrmann and Manfred Fischbeck, now in their 70s. Combining performers of widely varied ages is hardly a new idea; Liz Lerman, Bill T. Jones, and Pina Bausch all have experimented with this.
May 15, 1990 |
A new Wilma Theater will rise in what is now a parking lot at Broad and Spruce Streets, a site the city has been struggling to sell for eight years, Philadelphia officials and the developer said yesterday. The 300-seat theater will be included in a parking garage designed to eventually serve a new wing of what now is the Hershey Philadelphia Hotel, Mayor Goode said at a news conference. At the same time, the project's developer, Norman Wolgin, said the Hershey has had financial problems and soon will be replaced by an international hotel operator that intends to bring in European tourists.
February 28, 1990 |
The Alfred Bloomingdale we are introduced to at the Wilma Theater is a man who believes in the absolute efficacy of property and power over love as a winning principle. His sexual tastes are no surprise. They fit in with those of his favorite author, the Marquis de Sade. "You've heard of S and M?" he asks a pretty model in one of the more absurd lines in a play that is shot through with howlers. Now, Alfred Bloomingdale was a real person, a member of Ronald Regan's kitchen cabinet, a Yale-educated philanthropist whose family once owned the famous department store.
September 28, 1988 |
The big scene in The Concert at St. Ovide Fair is played in total darkness. The blind protagonist has extinguished all light to gain the advantage over his cruel tormentor. The audience at the Wilma Theater is in the same fix as the villain. There is no way of getting a fix on the position of the attacker, who slips about in the blackness with the ease of one who knows no other environment. Sensory deprivation is a dramatic device that the playwright, Spain's Antonio Buero-Vallejo, has used elsewhere.
April 4, 2015 |
Blanka Zizka has directed a much-anticipated Hamlet at the Wilma Theater, and central to the advance buzz is having Zainab Jah, a petite black African woman, in the title role. So was the idea that Hamlet is essentially human, and thus postrace and postgender? Maybe. But if you want to do a high-concept production, you actually have to have a concept and not just a bunch of weird stylistic choices. As it is, the stylistic choices - sometimes puzzling, sometimes dazzling - dominate the drama and often overwhelm the poetry, especially since some of the cast speaks very slowly, pausing at the end of lines, making little attempt at creating human speech.