Press Kit

The Wilma Theater continues its 2016-2017 Season with Andrew Bovell’s When the Rain Stops Falling, Directed by Wilma Artistic Director Blanka Zizka And Featuring Wilma HotHouse Company Members

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 2016

Press Contact:
Alison Ehrenreich
Community Relations and Marketing Director
215.893.9456 x102
aehrenreich@wilmatheater.org

A fish falls from the sky in the year 2039. A man named Gabriel prepares to meet his adult son after being estranged for twenty years. He wonders why his son is coming and what he wants: to know who he is? Where he comes from? Where he belongs? Gabriel knows nothing; his own past escapes him. As the story of Gabriel’s family unfolds onstage, his ancestors come alive around him to fill in the gaps. With its web of intricately overlapping connections, When the Rain Stops Falling follows four generations of a family from 1959 to 2039, and from London to Australia. As this family and their world evolve over time, one question remains: in the face of climate change, can we break our habits and change the way we live?

When the Rain Stops Falling begins on Wednesday, October 12, 2016; and opens on Wednesday, October 19, 2016. For critics and members of the press interested in attending Press Night on Wednesday, October 19 at 7:30pm, contact Alison Ehrenreich at aehrenreich@wilmatheater.org or 215.893.9456 x102.

Upon its United States premiere, Time Magazine praised When the Rain Stops Falling as “a powerful metaphor for the impossibility of escaping the past, for the way we are all shaped by what came before — and are living in the shadow of what comes next.” As such, its story is a reflection on the possibility for humanity in the face of the Anthropocene, a proposed epoch that begins when human activities started to have a significant global impact on Earth’s geology and ecosystems. “The play is itself a description of the relationship between a family saga and the Anthropocene,” explained playwright Andrew Bovell. “We inherit what is unresolved from the past, and if we do not resolve it ourselves, we pass it on to our descendants. Are we prepared to pass on the damage from the past to our children?” At the same time, Bovell sought to evoke these broad themes of climate change on a personal, immediate scale of a family drama: “Rather than speaking about climate change directly, I needed to root the themes in the human experience, within the relationship between people, defined as they always are by notions of love, connection and betrayal.”

Bovell originally wrote When the Rain Stops Falling in conjunction with an ensemble of actors, and this genesis makes it an ideal vehicle, both in structure and themes, for Artistic Director Blanka Zizka’s creative vision for ensemble-based work at the Wilma. The production will utilize performers from the Wilma HotHouse resident acting company, now in its second year. When the Rain Stops Falling will showcase these HotHouse actors, who have experimented with the text during their weekly ensemble sessions with Zizka, and they will apply their physical storytelling training to communicate the play’s fiercely emotional narrative through non-realist techniques that strip the story down to its core.

When the Rain Stops Falling begins and ends in Alice Springs, Australia, in the year 2039. In keeping with the production’s exploration of climate change and a green future, the Wilma’s lobby installation, “A Sustainable Philadelphia, 2039,” will feature an interactive environmental education display, which will be open to community. Working with Plant Group, the Wilma has imagined how a resilient and sustainable Philadelphia might look a generation from now. The exhibit will explore possibilities of Philadelphia's climate smart future and green infrastructure, with a self-watering planter with air-purifying plants and indoor air quality sensors; interactive tablets with digital resources; and outreach materials from the organizations involved. Other contributing organizations include Philadelphia Water Department, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, The Academy of Natural Sciences at Drexel University, Delaware River Watershed Initiative, Philly CUSP (Climate and Urban Systems Partnership) led by the Franklin Institute, and the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. The lobby display will be launched prior to the 7:30pm performance on Thursday, October 13 at a small gathering of those involved and Wilma subscribers and artists. The installation will be open to the public on select afternoons during the run. See the Wilma’s website for updates.

About the Playwright:
Andrew Bovell is a celebrated writer for both stage and screen. Andrew’s plays have won numerous awards in Australia, including the Victorian Green Room, State Premier’s Awards, and the peer-judged AWGIE awards. Equally successful are his films, which include "Lantana," which won over ten major awards in Australia in 2001 and was critically acclaimed internationally. It won Best Screenplay at the 2003 London Critics’ Circle Film Awards. Additionally, his feature film "Head On," which was co-written with Ana Kokkinos and Mira Robertson, premiered at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival to plaudits. Andrew also co-wrote the original screenplay of "Strictly Ballroom" with Baz Lurhmann and Craig Pearce. His play Holy Day premiered in 2001 at the State Theatre of SA and won an AWGIE award for Best Stage Writing (2002) and the Victorian Premiers Literary Award for Best Play. It was also nominated for the 2002 Green
Room Award for Best Play and the 2002 NSW and Queensland Premiers’ Literary Awards and was produced by Sydney Theatre Company for their 2003 season. Who’s Afraid of the Working Class, which he co-wrote with Christos Tsiolkas, Melissa Reeves, Patricia Cornelius, and Irine Vela, was produced by Melbourne Worker’s Theatre in 1998 and toured Australia in 1999 with Performing Lines. The play was awarded the major AWGIE Award in 1999 as well as the award for the best stage play. It also won the Jill Blewitt Award, the Victorian Green Room Award, and the QLD Premier’s Award for Drama. The same team of writers collaborated again to write Fever for the Melbourne Worker’s Theatre. In 1998 his AWGIE award-winning play Speaking in Tongues was produced in Sydney and Melbourne and then toured to the remaining state capital cities in Australia. In 2000, the play received its U.K. premiere at Derby Playhouse before transferring to Hampstead Theatre in London where it was widely praised by critics and audiences alike. This success was mirrored in 2001 at the Roundabout Theatre in New York when they presented the U.S. premiere. In 2002, Speaking in Tongues premiered in France at the Comedie des Champs Elysees and also played in Romania. Some of Andrew’s other works for the stage include Shades of Blue (La MaMa, 1996), Scenes from a Separation (MTC, 1995), Like Whiskey on the Breath of a Drunk You Love (1992), and Distant Lights From Dark Places (1994). The radio adaptation of this play won the Gold Medal for Drama at the New York Radio and Television Festival and the AWGIE Award for Best Radio Adaptation. His work for television includes "The Fisherman's Wake" ("Naked" – ABC 1996), nominated for a 1996 AFI award and co-winner with "Blue Murder" of an ATOM Award for Best Television Drama, "Lust" ("Seven Deadly Sins" – ABC 1993), "Piccolo Mondo" ("Six Pack" – SBS 1992) nominated for both AFI and AWGIE awards, and one episode of the telemovie series "Dogwoman" ("Simpson Le Mesurier" – Network 9, 2000).

About the Director:
Blanka Zizka has been the Artistic Director of The Wilma Theater since 1981. She has directed over 60 plays and musicals for the Wilma. Zizka most recently directed the United States premiere of Tom Stoppard’s The Hard Problem, which debuted at the Wilma in January 2016. In February 2016, Zizka was awarded the Vilcek Prize for Excellence in Theatre, which recognized her leadership in founding The Wilma Theater as an institution of national significance, her singular artistic vision, and her acclaimed direction of contemporary theatre. In the fall of 2011, Zizka received the Zelda Fichandler Award from the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation, which recognizes an outstanding director or choreographer transforming the regional arts landscape; and she was a Fellow at the 2015 Sundance Institute/LUMA Foundation Theatre Directors Retreat. For the past three years, Zizka has been developing practices and programs for local theater artists to create working conditions that support creativity through continuity and experimentation. She has organized nine compensated advanced training workshops for dozens of Philadelphia artists with the goal of creating an ensemble of actors surrounding the Wilma. The result of this vision, the Wilma HotHouse resident acting company and Associate Artists, debuted with Stoppard’s The Hard Problem in January 2016. During recent seasons at the Wilma, Zizka has directed back-to-back productions of Hamlet and Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and
Guildenstern are Dead; Richard Bean’s Under the Whaleback; Tony Kushner’s Angels in America; Tadeusz Slobodzianek's Our Class; Sarah Ruhl’s In the Next Room, or the vibrator play, which received eight Barrymore awards; and Macbeth, which included an original score by Czech composer and percussionist Pavel Fajt. 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. Zizka has collaborated with many playwrights, including Yussef El Guindi, Doug Wright, Sarah Ruhl, Tom Stoppard, Linda Griffiths, Polly Pen, Laurence Klavan, Lillian Groag, Jason Sherman, Amy Freed, Robert Sherwood, and Chay Yew.

Cast and Design Team:
When the Rain Stops Falling’s cast includes Nancy Boykin (Rapture, Blister, Burn) as Older Elizabeth Law, Taysha Canales (An Octoroon, The Hard Problem) as Younger Gabrielle York, Keith Conallen (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Hamlet, Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq) as Henry Law, Melanye Finister (Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq) as Older Gabrielle York, Sarah Gliko (The Hard Problem, Antigone, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Hamlet) as Younger Elizabeth Law, Anthony Martinez-Briggs (An Octoroon) as Andrew Price, Brian Ratcliffe (Antigone, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Hamlet) as Gabriel Law, Steven Rishard (The Hard Problem, Antigone, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Hamlet) as Joe Ryan, and Lindsey Smiling (The Hard Problem, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Hamlet) as Gabriel York.

The artistic team includes Set and Projection Designer Matt Saunders (The Christians, An Octoroon, The Hard Problem), Costume Designer Vasilija Zivanic (The Hard Problem, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Hamlet), Lighting Designer Yi Zhao (Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead), Composer and Sound Designer Christopher Colucci (Angels in America, Parts One and Two; In the Next Room, or the vibrator play; The Understudy), and Dramaturg Walter Bilderback. The production’s resident stage manager is Patreshettarlini Adams, and its production manager is Clayton Tejada.

The Honorary Producer for When the Rain Stops Falling is Mari Shaw. The media sponsor is Grid Magazine.

Special Events and Opportunities:
Beer Tasting pre-show reception: Friday, October 14, 7pm Join us for a pre-show beer tasting in our lobby from 7 to 8pm sponsored by Saint Benjamin Brewing Company—complimentary for ticket-holders to that evening's performance!

Directors Gathering Dialogue: Tuesday, October 18 Immediately following the performance, a member of the Directors Gathering will join When the Rain Stops Falling director Blanka Zizka for an audience-led conversation to discuss the behind-the-scenes process of directing When the Rain Stops Falling.

Post-Show Discussions: October 20 and 27 Learn more about the production through discussions with artists and audience members following these evening performances.

Art in the Anthropocene, a discussion symposium: Saturday, October 22 at 4:30pm What are the challenges for artists trying to address the theme of climate change? A multi-disciplinary panel addresses the question. Panelists will include E. Ann Kaplan, author of Climate Trauma, and Philadelphia poet Brian Teare.

Young Friends pre-show reception: Friday, October 28, 7pm For audience members 40 and under, this performance includes a complimentary pre-show food and drink reception at the Wilma from 7 to 8pm!

What’s Next? A discussion symposium: Saturday, October 29 at 4:30pm A distinguished panel will discuss what we can do as individuals and as citizens to meet the challenges of a changing climate. Panelists will include Philadelphia entrepreneur and activist Judy Wicks (White Dog Cafe, Sustainable Business Network) and Ashley Dawson, author of the forthcoming Extreme Cities: Climate Change and the Urban Future.

Coffee Chat: Wednesday, November 2 Chat with literary staff about When the Rain Stops Falling and enjoy complimentary Saxbys Coffee following Wednesday’s matinee performance.

Open Captioning: Saturday, November 5, 2pm

Tickets: As we bring our Wilma WynTix deeply subsidized ticketing initiative into its third year, prices will operate on a tiered system as each production enters its run. For When the Rain Stops Falling, Constellations, and Adapt!, the first two weeks of performances are $25 for general admission, and $10 for students and theater industry members with valid ID. For the third and fourth weeks, general admission tickets are $35, student tickets are $10, and theater industry tickets are $15. For any fifth-week extensions, general admission tickets are $45, student tickets are $10, and industry tickets are $15. For our limited-engagement presentation of Seuls, tickets are $35 for general admission, $15 for students, and $15 for theater industry members. Tickets are available at the Wilma’s Box Office by visiting
wilmatheater.org, calling 215.546.7824, or coming to the theater, located at 265 South Broad Street in Philadelphia.

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.