The Wilma Theater is known for doing things a bit differently. Just this year, the popular cultural establishment located on Philly’s Avenue of the Arts announced a ground-breaking leadership design with four co-artistic directors working together, making them one of the only regional theaters of this size in the country to do something along these lines. The theater also has been innovative before 2020 with its Wilma HotHouse program, a five-year-old resident artist company that trains together and incubates new work, something that is also unique in the artistic world. So it only makes sense in the face of COVID-19 that the Wilma offer Philadelphians a distinctive way to once again enjoy its cultural offerings.
The theater’s new WilmaPass offers audiences a four-ticket package that can be used at any time during their upcoming 2020/21 season, and this offer is priced for a limited time at just $100.
The WilmaPass will not only offer Philadelphians and theater-lovers an affordable way to enjoy art on stage, but it will also directly benefit the Wilma and its unique programs giving this institution the opportunity to keep growing and producing work during and after COVID-19.
“With this pass, you’re showing your commitment to the Wilma, not to a specific night or production, but to our art, to the performers and artists you’ve grown to love, and to the value of theater in our city,” said Leigh Goldenberg, Managing Director of the Wilma in a release. “Each winter, I purchase a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share from local farmers, ensuring they have the funds to plant the seeds to provide me with food throughout the summer. Likewise, we are asking our audiences to invest in us now so we can grow and create throughout the coming year, and deliver artistic work when we are ready.”
The Wilma, like many other theaters in the City of Brotherly Love has already gotten a head start on planning its upcoming season, but this year is truly unique as it marks the first seasonal collaboration from the four new co-artistic directors. Blanka Zizka (the original artistic director), Morgan Green, James Ijames and Yury Urno have all committed to still provide eagerly awaiting viewers with the line-up for the Wilma’s new season, and believe that doing so will not only raise people’s spirits but will also offer them something to look forward to.
“While acknowledging that our world is facing a major threat, all four Artistic Cohort members also see this moment as an opportunity for all of us to reconsider our attitude to what’s normal, right, and important. In hard times, artists’ voices often sound louder, and this opportunity comes with the duty to help people come together, resist tragedy, and rethink the habitual,” said Lead Artistic Director Yury Urnov in a release. “I believe in artists’ ability and obligation to offer audiences fresh and paradoxical viewpoints, to shift perspective in an attempt to provide a more complicated understanding of our world. And this is exactly what we hope to achieve in our 2020-21 season.”
The first performance of the new season will be the regional premiere of Will Aubrey’s ‘Heroes of the Fourth Turning’ directed by Zizka. The plot follows four Catholic conservative friends who gather at a backyard party in Wyoming and end up having memorable instances that turn out riveting debates, hilarious circumstances and even seductive moments. ‘Heroes’ was nominated for Outstanding Play from both the Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel Awards, and was named a New York Times “Best of the Year” pick.
Next up on the artistic agenda for the 2020-2021 season will be a modern take on a familiar Chekhov drama, ‘Minor Characters: Six Translations of Uncle Vanya at the Same Time.’ According to a release, the work, created by New Saloon (co-founded by Wilma Co-Artistic Director Morgan Green), with text by Anton Chekhov, features translations by Marian Fell, Laurence Senelick, Paul Schmidt, Carol Rocamora, Milo Cramer, and Google Translate and can only be described as a zany collage of one of modern theater’s classic stories. The show will be directed by Urnov in this regional premiere.
The third show on the Wilma’s agenda will be a world premiere of a collaboration from Ijames, directed by Green. ‘Fat Ham’ takes an updated look at William Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ and follows a similar story of the classic tale, but for this go around, ‘Fat Ham’ takes place in the South.
Closing out the season will be the Pulitzer Prize winner for drama, ‘Fairview’ from Jackie Sibblies Drury, directed by Ijames. The release states, the show begins as a sitcom about a family preparing to celebrate grandma’s birthday, but then explodes into a raucously brilliant look at race in our country, and how we “view” each other.
At this time, The Wilma Theater has not yet announced any set dates for its season given the current health crisis. Patrons and audience members are encouraged to visit wilmatheatre.org to receive updated information regarding show dates and times and to purchase the new WilmaPass. WilmaPass holders will be able to use their tickets for any performance once dates are announced.