Press Kit

Downloads

High Resolution Image Downloads

The Wilma Theater presents Pulitzer Prize-winning Playwright Paula Vogel’s Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq In a World Premiere production directed by Wilma Artistic Director Blanka Zizka March 19 – April 20, 2014

PHILADELPHIA – The Wilma Theater continues its commitment to bringing new work to Philadelphia with the second of back-to-back World Premieres by award-winning female playwrights with Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq by Paula Vogel, directed by Blanka Zizka. Winner of the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for How I Learned to Drive, Paula Vogel culminates a two-year script development process with Wilma Artistic Director Blanka Zizka and a full company of Philadelphia-based actors and designers. This process incorporates extensive interviews and workshops with veterans from recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as military and vocal training of the company of actors. Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq begins previews on Wednesday, March 19, 2014; opens on Wednesday, March 26, 2014; and closes on Sunday, April 20, 2014.

Critics and members of the press are invited to attend Press Night on Wednesday, March 26, at 7:30pm. For ticket arrangements, contact Sara Madden at smadden@wilmatheater.org or 215-893-9456 x102.

Playing with time and space, Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq tells the tale of one Marine’s return home from war and discovery that his lover is missing. Searching for her, he embarks on a surrealistic tour through the streets and history of Philadelphia. This collaborative project is commissioned by The Wilma Theater and inspired by Don Juan Returns from the War (written in 1936 by Bertolt Brecht’s younger contemporary Ödön von Horváth) and grounded in the experiences of recent veterans who often return from Iraq or Afghanistan to a home where most of the population has little direct connection with war.

About the development process, Wilma Artistic Director Blanka Zizka states, “There’s an exciting thing about this that I have never done before and that is announcing a play that’s going to happen that has not yet been written. Normally, we in American theater are waiting for the script. The script is our security. But I got to the point that the segmentation of the work that we do in the theater – the playwright writes a play in isolation, director picks it up, designers design, actors come last to the process – artistically, that’s not sustainable. It becomes a job to put on the play, instead of actually having a clear idea as to why we are doing it, what we want to say with it as a collective, what we are wrestling with, what we are encountering in our society that we want to talk about out loud with our audiences.”

Regarding the work with veterans as a component of engagement and research for the project, Playwright Paula Vogel comments, “We’ve done a couple of what I call bake-offs, where all together as writers in a workshop, I ask people to write something in 48 hours. And one of the things that I’ve been talking to the veteran writers about and can see on everyone’s faces is how much joy there is when you hear your words picked up by an actor and see your words become flesh in the room. To me it’s an odd paradoxical balancing act – that you can write and talk about the most fearful thing and yet there’s a vibrancy and joy when you give it over to actors and they lift it up. It’s been profoundly moving. But it brings me back to something else that I often say I feel as a writer. I will only understand a tiny smidgeon of experience. I’m a civilian. I can’t represent it. I have no right to represent it. But the fact that I want to understand it is my primary charge.” A sampling of the veterans’ writings will be shared at a special “Veterans on Stage” event on Tuesday, April 8 at 7:30 PM.

About the Playwright
Paula Vogel's play How I Learned to Drive received the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the Lortel Prize, the Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and New York Drama Critics Awards for Best Play, as well as winning her second Obie. It has been produced all over the world. Other plays include The Long Christmas Ride Home, The Mineola Twins, The Baltimore Waltz, Hot 'N' Throbbing, Desdemona, And Baby Makes Seven, The Oldest Profession, and A Civil War Christmas. In 2004 and 2005 she was the playwright in residence at Signature Theatre in New York, which produced three of her works. Second Stage produced a revival of How I Learned to Drive directed by Kate Whorisky in 2012, and New York Theatre Workshop produced a new draft of A Civil War Christmas, directed by Tina Landau, in December 2012. Her ongoing project with director Rebecca Taichman, The Vengeance Project, has been commissioned by Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Yale Repertory. Theatre Communications Group has published four books of her work, The Mammary Plays, The Baltimore Waltz and Other Plays, The Long Christmas Ride Home, and A Civil War Christmas. Most recent awards include induction into the Theatre Hall of Fame, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Dramatists Guild (2011), and the 2010 William Inge Festival’s Distinguished Achievement in the American Theatre Award. She is most honored to have two awards for emerging playwrights named after her: the Paula Vogel Award, created by the American College Theatre Festival in 2003, and the Paula Vogel Award in Playwriting, given annually by the Vineyard Theatre since 2007. Ms. Vogel won the 2004 Award for Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Obie for Best Play in 1992, the Rhode Island Pell Award in the Arts, the Hull-Warriner Award, The Laura Pels Award, the Pew Charitable Trust Senior Award, a Guggenheim, an AT&T New Plays Award, the Fund for New American Plays, the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center Fellowship, several National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, the McKnight Fellowship, and the Bunting Fellowship from Radcliffe College. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She was recently awarded a Thirtini, a most coveted award, from 13P in New York. She has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony, the Double UCross Colony, and Yaddo. She has taught for 24 years at Brown University and for five years at the Yale School of Drama where she was the Eugene O’Neill Professor (adjunct) of Playwriting.

About the Director
Blanka Zizka has been Founding Artistic Director of The Wilma Theater since 1981. In the fall of 2011, Blanka received the Zelda Fichandler Award from the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation, which recognizes an outstanding director or choreographer transforming the regional arts landscape. Most recently, Blanka directed Richard Bean’s Under the Whaleback, Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, Tadeusz Słobodzianek’s Our Class, Sarah Ruhl’s In the Next Room, which received eight Barrymore awards, and Macbeth, which included an original score by Czech composer and percussionist Pavel Fajt. Blanka has directed over 60 plays and musicals at the Wilma. Her recent favorite productions are Wajdi Mouawad’s Scorched, Tom Stoppard’s Rock ’n’ Roll, Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice (which featured an original score by composer Toby Twining, now available from Cantaloupe Records), Brecht’s The Life of Galileo, Athol Fugard’s Coming Home and My Children! My Africa!, and Caryl Churchill’s Cloud 9. She collaborated closely with Dael Orlandersmith on her plays Raw Boys and Yellowman, which was co-produced by McCarter Theatre and the Wilma and also performed at ACT Seattle, Long Wharf, and Manhattan Theatre Club. Blanka was also privileged to direct Rosemary Harris and John Cullum in Ariel Dorfman’s The Other Side at MTC. For the Academy of Vocal Arts, she directed the opera Kát’a Kabanová by Leoš Janácek. She has collaborated with many playwrights including Yussef El Guindi, Doug Wright, Sarah Ruhl, Tom Stoppard, Linda Griffiths, Polly Pen, Dael Orlandersmith, Laurence Klavan, Lillian Groag, Jason Sherman, Amy Freed, Robert Sherwood, and Chay Yew. Her favorite productions are, even after all these years, Tom Stoppard’s The Invention of Love and Jim Cartwright’s Road.

Cast and Design Team
The Philadelphia-based cast features Keith Conallen (Under the Whaleback) as Don Juan, Kate Czajkowski (Angels in America, Assistance, Our Class) as Cressida, and ensemble members Melanye Finister, Yvette Ganier (Etta Jenks), Sarah Gliko, Hannah Gold, Kevin Meehan (Assistance, Our Class, Macbeth), Brian Ratcliffe (Under the Whaleback), and Lindsay Smiling (Macbeth).

The artistic team includes Set Designer Matt Saunders, who previously worked with Blanka Zizka on Angels in America, Under the Whaleback, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Age of Arousal, and My Children! My Africa!, Costume Designer Vasilija Zivanic (Leaving), Lighting Designer Thom Weaver (Assistance, Body Awareness, Our Class, Becky Shaw), Sound Designer Daniel Perelstein (Under the Whaleback, Our Class, Macbeth), and Master Vocal Instructor Jean-René Toussaint, who has trained casts of Under the Whaleback, Angels in America, and Our Class in the Stemwerk Vocal Technique.

Special Events and Opportunities
During the run of Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq, The Wilma Theater presents a number of special events and opportunities in partnership with Blue Star Families, Department of Veteran Affairs, MetLife Foundation, Opera Philadelphia, Temple University, Theatre Communications Group, Veteran Writers Group, Warrior Writers, and George Washington University’s Veterans Writing Program.

Lobby Display
March 19 through April 20, 2014
From War to Home: Through the Veteran’s Lens is an exhibit of photos and personal testimony from Philadelphia-area veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a project of the Department of Veterans Affairs (Project Director: Gala True, PhD).

Pay What You Can
Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 7:30pm
Pay what you can on the first preview performance (cash only the day of show in person).

Onstage Conversation
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Stay after the performance to discuss the play with a member of the Wilma's artistic staff.

Beer Tasting
Friday, March 28, 2014
Join us from 7-8pm in our lobby for a complimentary beer tasting!

Onstage Conversation
Thursday, April 3, 2014
Stay after the performance to discuss the play with the cast.

Young Friends Night
Friday, April 4, 2014
The Young Friends pre-show event features a complimentary food and drink reception at the Wilma from 7-8pm for audience members 35 and under.

The Metamorphoses of Don Juan
Monday, April 7, 2014 - 7:30pm
Both the Wilma and Opera Philadelphia present works inspired by the Don Juan legend. Opera Philadelphia presents Mozart’s classic Don Giovanni April 25 through May 4. Artists from both organizations will explore the Don Juan legend in scenes from theatrical works inspired by the famed lover. There will be a question and answer session following this special 90-minute presentation. This is a free event, and seating is limited.

Veterans on Stage
Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 7:30pm
Join us for an evening of stage writing created by Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in workshops with master teacher Paula Vogel during the creation process of Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq, read by cast members of the Wilma’s production. This is a free event, and seating is limited. This event is conducted in partnership with Blue Star Families, Theatre Communications Group, and MetLife Foundation.

Student Matinee
Wednesday, April 9, 2014 – 10:00 AM
As a component of the Virginia and Harvey Kimmel Family Campaign to Build the Audiences of Tomorrow, we offer a dedicated student matinee through our Wilma Classroom program.

Onstage Conversation
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Stay after the matinee performance to discuss the play with a member of the Wilma's artistic staff in the lobby with complimentary coffee from Starbucks.

Tria Wine Tasting
Friday, April 18, 2014
Join us for a pre-show wine tasting courtesy of TRIA in our lobby from 7-8pm, complimentary for ticket-holders.

Open Captioning
Saturday, April 19, 2014 - 2:00pm

Tickets

Tickets range from $35 - $66, 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, seniors, groups, rush, or anyone in their 20s.  Information on discounts is available at wilmatheater.org.

Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq is made possible through the generous support of the Independence Foundation’s New Theatre Works Initiative, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. Linda and David Glickstein are the Honorary Producers. PECO is the Corporate Sponsor. The Doubletree Hotel and The Sporting Club at The Bellevue are the Season Sponsors for The Wilma Theater’s 2013/2014 Season.

Mission

The Wilma Theater creates living, adventurous art. We engage artists and audiences in imaginative reflection on the complexities of contemporary life. We present bold, original, well-crafted productions that represent a range of voices, viewpoints, and styles.

What:   Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq

by Paula Vogel

directed by Blanka Zizka

Where: The Wilma Theater

265 South Broad Street

Philadelphia, PA 19107

When:  
March 19 – April 20, 2014
Preview Performances: March 19 – March 25, 2014
Opening Night: March 26, 2014
Reviewing members of the press are invited to attend opening night and may reserve tickets by contacting Sara Madden at smadden@wilmatheater.org. 

Summary: Pulitzer Prize-winner Paula Vogel (How I Learned to Drive) joins creative forces with Wilma Artistic Director Blanka Zizka, along with a full company of actors and designers, to develop a World Premiere production in Philadelphia, Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq. Playing with time and space, this is a tale of one Marine’s return home from war and discovery that his lover is missing. Searching for her, he embarks on a surrealistic tour through the streets and history of Philadelphia. This collaborative project is inspired by Don Juan Returns from the War (written in 1936 by Bertolt Brecht’s younger contemporary Ödön von Horváth) and grounded in the experiences of recent veterans who often return from Iraq or Afghanistan to a home where most of the population has little direct connection with war.

Tickets
Tickets range from $35 - $66, 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, seniors, groups, rush, or anyone in their 20s. Information on discounts is available at wilmatheater.org.

Cast

Keith Conallen as Don Juan
Kate Czajkowski as Cressida
Melanye Finister, Ensemble
Yvette Ganier, Ensemble
Sarah Gliko, Ensemble
Hannah Gold, Ensemble
Kevin Meehan, Ensemble
Brian Ratcliffe, Ensemble
Lindsay Smiling, Ensemble


Design Team
Set Design: Matt Saunders
Costume Design: Vasilija Zivanic
Lighting Design: Thom Weaver
Composer & Sound Designer: Daniel Perelstein
Master Vocal Instructor: Jean-René Toussaint

Press Contact

Sara Madden, Community Relations Manager

215-893-9456x102

smadden@wilmatheater.org

 

###