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 presented Macbeth, the first production of Shakespeare in the theater's 37-year history. Artistic Director Blanka Zizka sought to focus on the muscular physicality of the tragedy, the occult darkness of its world, and the bringing together of ancient and modern times. The production incorporated percussion and choreography to underscore the menacing and dark momentum of the play as it moved toward its tragic ending. Mimi Lien designed sets to contribute to what Zizka called "a bunker mentality." Brian Sanders, the artistic director of Philadelphia's JUNK, Inc., provided choreography that highlighted his acrobatic skill, and percussionist/composer Pavel Fajt, a leading figure in Czech rock and alternative music for 20 years, provided a dramatic original score. The Philadelphia Inquirer praised the production as "a visual and aural dazzler."
As a reflection of the Wilma's commitment to training for artists, a full-cast, week-long workshop with voice expert and Royal Shakespeare Company alum Andrew Wade grounded the actors in how to speak Shakespeare's text for modern audiences. The production attracted more than 3,000 area students—more than had attended the theater's six previous productions combined.
Click here to see Blanka Zizka discussing her vision for the Wilma's production, and admitting that fear of Shakespeare led her to direct Macbeth.