Jiri Zizka: 1953 - 2012

The Wilma Theater is saddened to announce the death of its Co-Founding Artistic Director Jiri Zizka who died in his home in Philadelphia due to liver complications. Jiri was 58 years old.

His passing is a great loss to Philadelphia's artistic community. We know you will join us in offering his family and friends our sincerest condolences as we honor the legacy of this innovative artist and community visionary.

Jiri Zizka, who was born in Prague and educated at Charles IV University, became an Artist in Residence at the Wilma in 1979 and co-Artistic Director in 1981, where he directed over 70 productions. Some of the highlights of his career included Orwell’s Animal Farm, Camus’ The Stranger, Brecht’s Mother Courage, Capeks’ The Insect Comedy, Weiss’ Marat/Sade, his own adaptation of Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, Brecht/Weill’s Happy End, Orwell’s 1984 (also at the Kennedy Center and Off-Broadway), Fo’s Accidental Death of an Anarchist and the U.S. Premiere of Václav Havel’s Temptation (a co-production with Joseph Papp’s New York Shakespeare Festival). Jiri also directed a feature film of Havel’s Largo Desolato, adapted by Tom Stoppard, starring F. Murray Abraham, for PBS’s Great Performances. He wrote and directed Inquest of Love, a film nominated for an Emmy® Award. His theater credits also include George F. Walker’s Love and Anger, Martin McDonagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan, David Gow’s Cherry Docs (with David Strathairn), Stoppard’s The Real Inspector Hound, Peter Shaffer’s Black Comedy, Stephen Sondheim’s Passion, Christopher Hampton’s Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Stoppard’s Indian Ink, Arthur Miller’s Resurrection Blues, Charles L. Mee’s Big Love and Wintertime. He also directed a co-production between the Wilma and The Philadelphia Orchestra of Tom Stoppard’s and André Previn’s Every Good Boy Deserves Favor, a play for actors and a philharmonic orchestra, at The Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall. Jiri directed Tom Stoppard’s Night and Day, Itamar Moses’ Outrage, Ken Ludwig’s Shakespeare in Hollywood, Mark Saltzman’s The Tin Pan Alley Rag (Carbonell Award for Best Director), Caryl Churchill’s A Number, Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman (six Barrymore nominations), Sarah Schulman’s adaptation of Isaac Bashevis Singer’s novel Enemies, A Love Story, Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus, Roy Smiles’ Ying Tong and Schmucks, Terry Johnson’s Hysteria, and most recently, the U.S. Premiere of Václav Havel’s Leaving. In 2010, Jiri moved into a consulting relationship with the Wilma in order to pursue other artistic endeavors.

A Memorial Service will be held here at the Wilma on Monday, February 6th at noon. Please RSVP to events@wilmatheater.org.

In respect of Jiri’s passing, the Theater Lovers Fête scheduled for February 11, 2012 has been postponed.