Established in 1973, The Wilma Theater presents bold, original, well-crafted productions that represent a range of voices, viewpoints, and styles. In 2011, former artistic director Blanka Zizka founded the Wilma HotHouse Company as an incubator for artistic experimentation and a way to create long-term relationships and collaborations with local Philadelphia artists from diverse backgrounds. Beginning in 2020, the company established a new leadership structure with artists sharing artistic leadership in a cohort format.
The Wilma Theater will produce and present the world premiere of Adapt!, the first play written by the company's artistic director Blanka Zizka. Drawing on Zizka's personal experiences as a Czech émigré to the US in the 1970s, the play touches upon themes of identity and exile, the idealism of youth, and the compromises of adulthood. Audiences will follow the story of 22-year old Lenka, who has spent a year in a refugee camp in Germany after escaping from communist Czechoslovakia. Over the course of the play, various characters conjure up Lenka's recent past and her possible futures, and a 1960s record player magically turns on and off to play records that activate Lenka's memories. Adapt! represents an important turning point for the Wilma, as the theater is now focusing institutionally on artist-driven, ensemble-based work, and for Zizka, a veteran theater director making her debut as a playwright. Pew Fellow Matt Saunders will create the set design. The project will be accompanied by an installation of Jennifer Baker's exhibition, Portraits Of People On The Move, A Companion Piece, originally presented alongside Silvana Cardell's Center-funded dance piece, Supper, People On The Move.
*Additional unrestricted funds are added to each grant for general operating support.*