Since the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man in Minneapolis at the hands of a white police officer, Derek Chauvin—the country has been involved in a movement igniting protests desperately calling for police reform. To help out with this meaningful cause, the Wilma Theatre and one of their co-artistic directors, local playwright James Ijames, have decided to take a stand of their own and offer a way to help Philadelphia organizations involved in the Black Lives Matter Movement.
The Wilma is currently streaming their 2018 production of Ijames’ ‘Kill Move Paradise’ until June 21. According to the release, the play, a New York Times Critics Pick, and winner of the Whiting Award and the Kesselring Prize, is inspired by the ever-growing list of slain unarmed black people in America. To stand in solitude with the movement, 100% of the proceeds from the streaming event will benefit Black Lives Matter Philly.
“The streaming of this production of ‘Kill Move Paradise’ is an opportunity for us to use what we do best to raise awareness and money for Black Lives Matter Philly, which is working tirelessly towards transformative justice,” said Ijames in a statement. “This play contains a lot of pain, a lot of sorrow, but I hope it also offers my own community a space of healing and hope.”
Ijames has been a figure in the City of Brotherly Love’s theater scene for quite some time with performing and playwright credits at The Arden Theatre Company, The Philadelphia Theatre Company, InterAct Theatre Company, The Wilma Theater, Baltimore Center Stage, Mauckingbird Theatre Company and People’s Light. His production of ‘Kill Move Paradise’ however has taken on a new meaning during these times.
The emotional show was directed two years ago by Ijames’ Wilma colleague Blanka Zizka, who was the sole Artistic Director at the time. Zizka herself also has quite the resume with over 70 plays and musicals at the Wilma. Most recently, Blanka directed ‘Describe the Night,’ ‘There, Romeo and Juliet,’ ‘When The Rain Stops Falling’ and Tom Stoppard’s U.S. premiere of ‘The Hard Problem.’
The plot of Ijames’ play being streamed follows Isa (Lindsay Smiling), Daz (Brandon J. Pierce), Grif (Anthony Martinez-Briggs) and Tiny (Avery Hannon), four black men who find themselves in an other-worldly waiting room in the afterlife. The characters from the show are said to be symbols of life and hope, and ‘Kill Move Paradise’ itself is said to illustrate the possibilities of collective transformation and radical acts of joy.
To stick with the theme of the show, and to further the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement, virtual audience members will be asked to make a contribution of any size to Black Lives Matter Philly. BLM Philly was born in the summer of 2012 by co-founders Patrisse Kahn-Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi. The organization was initially created in response to Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman, being acquitted for his crime, but since its birth, BLM Philly has been making an impact on the city. Over the years, with more unlawful deaths of black citizens, this organization has gained more and more traction with the goal to spark change.
According to the release, to watch the streaming performance, interested audience members can visit wilmatheater.org. Donations to Black Lives Matter Philly can be made online through tickets.wilmatheater.org/donate as well. Additionally, the Wilma will be sharing extra resources to support the movements, protests and to educate audiences about anti-racism efforts.
For more information on The Wilma Theater, visit wilmatheater.org