Directed by Richard Hamburger
May 18 – June 19, 2011
PHILADELPHIA – The Wilma Theater will end its 2010 – 2011 Season with Alan Ayckbourn’s latest comedy My Wonderful Day, directed by Richard Hamburger, the first Artistic Director Emeritus of the Dallas Theater Center. This play marks the first play by the critically acclaimed and internationally celebrated English dramatist to be produced by the Wilma as well as Richard Hamburger’s directorial debut at the theater. My Wonderful Day begins previews on Wednesday May 18, 2011; opens on Wednesday, May 25, 2011; and closes on Sunday, June 19, 2011.
In My Wonderful Day, Laverne, an Afro-Caribbean cleaning woman, brings Winnie, her young daughter, to the house of her wealthy clients in London. Winnie is determined to complete her school assignment of chronicling her “wonderful day,” but quite unexpectedly finds herself witness to a tangled love affair. What ensues is a wickedly funny and bold dissection of a turbulent marriage. My Wonderful Day made its US premiere in New York at 59E59 Theaters’ 2009 Brits Off-Broadway festival.
Along with his distinguished career in Scarborough, England and London’s West End, playwright Alan Ayckbourn has attained recognition in the United States, as his plays have been regularly staged in America, and more than ten have been produced on Broadway and Off-Broadway. His work has garnered numerous awards and accolades on both sides of the Atlantic, including two Tony® Award nominations and one Tony® Award win, as well as England’s coveted Laurence Olivier Award and the Critics' Circle Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts. Alan Ayckbourn was knighted in 1997. In the span of his career, Alan Ayckbourn has written and produced seventy-five full-length plays which have been translated into over thrifty-five languages.
To direct My Wonderful Day, The Wilma Theater is pleased to welcome Richard Hamburger, the first Artistic Director Emeritus of the Dallas Theater Center. About My Wonderful Day, Richard remarks “this play is like a great short story – it is an accurate and uncluttered observation of people, a precise character study. Yet even though it’s a brilliant story, My Wonderful Day doesn’t wear its brilliance flamboyantly on its sleeve. Within its hilarious, farcical structure is a warmth and humanity that offers insights into areas of the world we often take for granted. We laugh as we recognize ourselves.”
The Wilma’s Artistic Director Blanka Zizka comments, “I'm very excited for the Wilma to produce its first play by internationally celebrated playwright Alan Ayckbourn. We are proud of our national reputation for bold productions of important international writers’ work. Our audiences have been thrilled by our recent productions of plays by writers Athol Fugard, Tom Stoppard, Bertolt Brecht, and Wajdi Mouawad. The story of the play wonderfully supports our mission of presenting well-crafted productions of intelligent, daring plays that represent diverse voices, viewpoints, and styles. I'm confident audiences will find in Richard Hamburger's imaginative production lots of humor and humanity.”
About the Playwright
Alan Ayckbourn was born in London in 1939 to a violinist father and a mother who was a writer. He left school at 17 with two 'A' levels and went straight into the theatre. Two years in regional theatre as an actor and stage manager led in 1959 to the writing of his first play, The Square Cat, for Scarborough's Theatre In the Round at the instigation of his then-employer and subsequent mentor, Stephen Joseph. Some 75 plays later, his work has been translated into over 35 languages, is performed on stage and television throughout the world, and has won countless awards. Major successes include Relatively Speaking, How the Other Half Loves, Absurd Person Singular, Bedroom Farce, A Chorus of Disapproval and The Norman Conquests. The National Theatre recently revived his 1980 play Season’s Greetings to great acclaim, while Lucy Bailey’s production of Snake in the Grass at the Print Room also attracted excellent reviews. At the Stephen Joseph this summer, he will direct the premiere of his latest play, Neighbourhood Watch, together with Dear Uncle, his adaptation of Uncle Vanya. In 2009, he retired as Artistic Director of this theatre, where almost all his plays have been and continue to be first staged. Holding the post for 37 years, he feels his greatest achievement was the establishment of this company’s first permanent home when the multi-venue complex fashioned from a former Odeon Cinema opened in 1996. In recent months, he has been inducted into American Theatre's Hall of Fame, received the 2010 Critics' Circle Award for Services to the Arts and become the first British playwright to receive both Olivier and Tony Special Lifetime Achievement Awards. He was knighted in 1997 for services to the theatre. Biography supplied by Alan Ayckbourn’s official website, www.alanayckbourn.net.
About the Director
Richard Hamburger spent fifteen years as Artistic Director at the Dallas Theatre Center, five years as Artistic Director of Portland Stage Company, and directed a wide range of classic and contemporary plays including new work by Octavio Solis, Lynn Siefert, Erik Ehn, Eric Overmyer, Chay Yew, Tony Kushner, and Nilo Cruz. He has directed at Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company, Portland Center Stage, The Acting Company, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Yale Repertory Theatre, Baltimore Center Stage, California Shakespeare Festival, American Place Theatre, Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, and Great Lakes Theater Festival, where he served as Associate Director. Richard Hamburger was awarded the Rockefeller Grant in playwriting and served on the faculty of Juilliard and Circle in the Square. He has served on numerous panels for the National Endowment for the Arts. He recently directed the critically acclaimed version of The Sound of Music for The Salzburg Marionette Theater.
About the Cast and Design Team
My Wonderful Day’s cast includes Opal Alladin (Wilma’s In the Next Room, or the vibrator play) as Laverne, Kate Eastwood Norris (Barrymore Award winner for Wilma’s Rock ’n’ Roll)as Paula, David Andrew MacDonald as Kevin, Kelly O’Sullivan as Tiffany, Lavita Shaurice as Winnie, and John Zak (Wilma’s The Life of Galileo) as Josh.
The set will be designed by Lee Savage, costumes will be designed by Maiko Matsushima, lighting designed by Tyler Micoleau, and sound designed by Charles Coes.
A number of special, behind-the-scenes Onstage Conversations will accompany the production and provide audiences with the opportunity to engage with the artistic staff of the Wilma.
- Thursday, May 26: Post-show conversation with the Wilma’s artistic staff
- Thursday, June 2: Post-show conversation with the cast
- Wednesday, June 15 (following matinee): Post-show conversation with the Wilma’s artistic staff and complimentary coffee in the lobby
Tickets range from $36 to $65, and are available at the Wilma's Box Office by calling 215.546.7824, visiting wilmatheater.org, or coming to the theater, located at 265 South Broad Street in Philadelphia. Discounted ticket options are available for students, groups, or anyone in their 20s. Information on discounts is available at wilmatheater.org.
The Wilma Theater exists to present theater as an art form, engaging artists and audiences in an adventure of aesthetic philosophical reflection of the complexities of contemporary life. We accomplish our mission by producing thoughtful, well-crafted productions of intelligent, daring plays that represent a range of voices, viewpoints, and production styles.
The Doubletree Hotel, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, and The Sporting Club at The Bellevue are the Season Sponsors for The Wilma Theater’s 2010 – 2011 Season.