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Wilma Theater

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ENTERTAINMENT
May 7, 1986 | By William B. Collins, Inquirer Theater Critic
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.
NEWS
April 23, 1992 | By Leonard W. Boasberg, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
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.
NEWS
December 6, 1996 | By Stephan Salisbury, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
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.
ENTERTAINMENT
September 10, 1997 | By Douglas J. Keating, INQUIRER THEATER CRITIC
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)
ENTERTAINMENT
July 13, 2013 | By Nancy G. Heller, For The Inquirer
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.
NEWS
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.
NEWS
May 15, 1990 | By Dan Meyers, Inquirer Staff Writer
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.
NEWS
February 28, 1990 | By William B. Collins, Inquirer Theater Critic
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.
NEWS
September 28, 1988 | By William B. Collins, Inquirer Theater Critic
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.
ENTERTAINMENT
April 4, 2015 | By Toby Zinman, For The Inquirer
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.
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ENTERTAINMENT
April 4, 2015 | By Toby Zinman, For The Inquirer
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.
NEWS
April 3, 2015 | By Stephan Salisbury, Inquirer Staff Writer
After 18 years performing at the tiny but storied Adrienne Theater on Sansom Street, InterAct Theatre Company will be picking up its props and sets and leading a group of four other theatrical organizations to a new, multistage home being carved out of the old Drake hotel ballroom behind the Kimmel Center. The move, scheduled to be announced Thursday, represents something of a sea change in the city's performing arts landscape, bringing smaller producing theater companies into closer proximity to the Avenue of the Arts.
ENTERTAINMENT
April 1, 2015 | By A.D. Amorosi, For The Inquirer
That it should come to this! But two months dead: nay, not so much, not two: So excellent a king; that was, to this, Hyperion to a satyr; so loving to my mother That he might not beteem the winds of heaven Visit her face too roughly. Heaven and earth! Must I remember? Why, she would hang on him, As if increase of appetite had grown By what it fed on: and yet, within a month - Let me not think on't - Frailty, thy name is woman!   When it comes to women and Hamlet - Shakespeare's take on dead patriarchs, lustful queens, and avenging scions - the Bard isn't exactly kind.
NEWS
March 23, 2015 | BY CHUCK DARROW, Daily News Staff Writer darrowc@phillynews.com, 215-313-3134
SPRING'S STAGE schedule is a typical cup-runneth-over affair, mixing the classic and the brand new (and new twists on standards), comedies and dramas, musicals and scripts without scores. On the nonmusical front, we're excited about "To the Moon," a new piece from local comedy doyenne Jen Childs (and starring her gifted hubby, Scott Greer) that riffs on Jackie Gleason's 1950s sitcom "The Honeymooners. " Dramatically speaking, South Philly's Theatre Exile takes on Edward Albee's intense "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf," and Wilma Theater puts its audacious spin on Shakespeare's "Hamlet.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 17, 2015 | By Toby Zinman, For The Inquirer
When, in 1993, the body of an American soldier was dragged, beaten and bloodied, through the streets of Mogadishu in Somalia, Paul Watson photographed the horror, winning the Pulitzer Prize for the picture. He believes the dead soldier said to him, "If you do this, I will own you forever. " That haunting has, apparently, endured to this day, recorded in Watson's memoir, Where War Lives, and in Dan O'Brien's play The Body of an American , at the Wilma Theater until Feb. 1. The play concerns war and Watson's belief that war lives inside us. So rather than indict the inhumanity of those who inflict the misery, the play's documentary style becomes a kind of travelogue of suffering: Rwanda, Somalia, Iraq, Philippines, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Syria.
NEWS
November 21, 2014 | By Merilyn Jackson, For The Inquirer
From Richard Villaverde's opening rond de jambe in Matthew Neenan's Increasing to Jorma Elo's dramatic ending in Gran Partita , BalletX launched its seven-show fall run (with an added Sunday-night performance) at the Wilma Theater on Wednesday with the confidence and artistry of a world-class ballet company. That's what it is, really, though there wasn't a pointe shoe in sight. The world premiere of Gran Partita was inspired by Orson Welles' film noir classic Touch of Evil , yet had too much beauty and too little grit to match that imagery.
ENTERTAINMENT
October 15, 2014 | By Toby Zinman, For The Inquirer
Brace yourselves, Philly theater people: Joanna Settle, the new head of the Brind School of Theater Arts at the University of the Arts, has arrived with big plans - for herself, her students, and the city's theatergoers. Blindingly articulate and brimming with new-kid optimism, Settle recently returned from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, where she collaborated with Passing Strange singer/songwriter Stew on his new musical, Family Album . She is making her local directorial debut at the Wilma Theater this week with Gina Gionfriddo's Rapture, Blister, Burn . During an interview in which big names dropped right and left, Settle - wearing silver shoes - explained the similarities involved in directing, producing, and running a school within a university: "There's a reason they call it 'helming' - you're steering this thing.
NEWS
August 31, 2014
A story Thursday on Barrymore Award nominations gave the wrong number for the Wilma Theater's nominations. It was 10.
NEWS
August 29, 2014
IF YOU'RE wondering about those barnyard sounds emanating from 2nd Street, it's likely the folks at Arden Theatre Company crowing about their Barrymore Awards nominations. The Old City-based company copped a field-leading 23 nominations in the competition that honors excellence in Philadelphia's theater community. Finishing in the place position was the financially beleaguered Philadelphia Theatre Company with 11 nods, followed by Wilma Theatre with 10. Arden's haul was spearheaded by its production of "Parade," which received nominations in such prestigious categories as Production of a Musical; Director of a Musical ( Terrence J. Nolen )
NEWS
August 29, 2014 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Culture Writer
In a show of strength, Philadelphia's smaller theater companies this year rival the city's usual prize magnets in nominations for the newly revived Barrymore Awards, announced on Thursday. In no surprise from past years, Arden Theatre had 23 nominations, Wilma Theater tallied 10, and Philadelphia Theatre Company had 11. But Theatre Exile, InterAct Theatre, and Theatre Horizon took nine nominations each, while Simpatico Theatre Project had eight, Bristol Riverside Theatre five, and Inis Nua Theatre Company five.
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