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.
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.
November 16, 2012
TRUMPETER LOUIE Armstrong is one of the most famous jazz musicians of all time. But few knew that the real-life Armstrong was very different from his larger-than-life stage persona. The man behind the image is the subject of Terry Teachout's "Satchmo at the Waldorf" starring John Douglas Thompson as both Armstrong and his manager, Joe Glaser. The show, starting Friday through Dec. 2, takes place in Armstrong's backstage dressing room at the Waldorf Astoria and focuses on his upbringing, his relationship with his mobster manager and his views on the civil-rights movement.
September 30, 1987 |
"Macbett," a grotesque comedy by Eugene Ionesco, translated from the French by Charles Marowitz. Directed by Blanka Zizka; set, costume and special props design by Hiroshi Iwasaki; original music and sound design by Adam Wernick; lighting by Jeff Brown. Presented by the Wilma Theater at 2030 Sansom St. through Nov. 15. Eugene Ionesco's biggest joke of the evening is his program note that he "ended the name of my play 'Macbett' with two t's so that it wouldn't be confused with the play by Shakespeare.