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Romeo and Juliet

No balcony. No tights.
A reinvigorated, music-filled Romeo and Juliet, directed by Blanka Zizka, up next at The Wilma Theater.
January 15 through February 9, 2019

PHILADELPHIA – Lean, vibrant, and rewired with a youthful jolt of energy and activism, this isn’t the play your eighth grade teacher made you read. An age old feud, fueled by a cycle of violence and power, spiraling out of control. A generation seeking more meaning than their parents’ world will allow. A burgeoning love that tries to defy it all. Artistic Director Blanka Zizka helms a refreshed re-telling of Shakespeare’s famous love story, running at the Wilma from January 15 through February 9, 2019.
Drawing from a range of contemporary influences from the “Rich Kids of Instagram” to the Parkland, FL student founders of the March for Our Lives, Zizka’s intention with the project is to approach the text as a new play, editing out passages that have become laden with over-saturated tropes and clichés through the play’s four centuries of productions. The Wilma’s Romeo and Juliet features actors from the Wilma’s resident HotHouse Company, with Philly favorites Matteo Scammel and Taysha Marie Canales respectively tackling the titular star-crossed lovers. The production will include a live, onstage band, led by local singer/songwriter Gracie Martin, who has composed a host of original music using Shakespeare’s text as inspiration. A chorus of students from the University of the Arts, embodying the frustration of the young denizens of Verona rounds out the impressive creative roster.
Zizka hopes to continue the Wilma’s successful legacy of breathing new life into classical texts. Most recently, her direction of a critically acclaimed, 2015 production of Hamlet featured one of the first Black women ever cast in the title role, actress Zainab Jah.

Interim Press Contact:
James Haskins Managing Director
215.893.9456 x110
jhaskins@wilmatheater.org
265 S. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19107
Admin. Phone: 215.893.9456
Box Office: 215.546.7824

For critics and members of the press interested in attending Press Night on Friday, January 18 at 8:00 p.m., contact James Haskins, Managing Director at jhaskins@wilmatheater.org or 215.893.9456 x110.
This production is made possible by major support provided by Wyncote Foundation.
About the Director: Blanka Zizka has been Artistic Director of The Wilma Theater since 1981. In 2011, Blanka refocused the Wilma’s energy on developing practices and programs for local theater artists to create working conditions that support creativity through continuity and experimentation and two seasons ago she founded the Wilma HotHouse Company. At the Wilma, she has directed over 70 plays and musicals. Most recently, Blanka directed James Ijames’ Kill Move Paradise, Christopher Chen’s world premiere Passage, her own play Adapt!, Andrew Bovell’s When The Rain Stops Falling, Tom Stoppard’s U.S. premiere of The Hard Problem, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, Hamlet, Paula Vogel’s world premiere Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq, Richard Bean’s Under the Whaleback, Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, Tadeusz Słobodzianek’s Our Class, Sarah Ruhl’s In the Next Room…, and Macbeth, which included an original score by Czech composer and percussionist Pavel Fajt. Her other favorite productions are Wajdi Mouawad’s Scorched, Tom Stoppard’s The Invention of Love and Rock ’n’ Roll, 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. She is a recipient of the 2016 Vilcek Prize, which is awarded annually to immigrants who have made lasting contributions to American society through their extraordinary achievements in biomedical research and the arts and humanities. She received the Zelda Fichandler Award from the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation in 2011, which recognizes individuals who are transforming the national arts landscape with their unique and creative work in the American regional theatre; and she was a Fellow at the 2015 Sundance Institute/LUMA Foundation Theatre Directors Retreat.

About the Wilma HotHouse: The HotHouse is the Wilma’s resident ensemble theater artists, formally launched in 2016 to serve as an incubator for artistic investigation and experimentation, featuring a twelve-person core HotHouse Company of actors, enabled to dare and explore under the Wilma’s auspices, as well as three resident artists and nine affiliated artists of all theatrical disciplines. HotHouse allows the Wilma to develop new works specifically for our company of actors; to conduct readings, intensive workshops, and other experiments with company members and guest artists; and to hone a unique theatrical aesthetic for the Wilma through rigorous actor training. The HotHouse is, at its heart, the Wilma’s investment in the artistic community of Philadelphia, and serves as the central vehicle through which the Wilma brings its work, onstage and off, to the city.
About the Composer/Music Director: Gracie Martin is a local singer-songwriter and producer. Her debut EP, Unconscious, can be found on iTunes, Spotify and all other streaming services. Her music has been featured on NPR's All Songs Considered Blog as well as XPN’s The Key. Gracie holds a BFA in Acting from The University of the Arts and has worked with The Arden, Quintessence Theatre Group and Shakespeare in Clark Park, among others. Check out www.graciemartinmusic.com or follow @gracie_sobeautiful on Instagram to stay up to date with concerts and new music.

Special Events:
Cafe Chats: Post-Show after every performance: An informal discussion about the production with Wilma artists and staff, held in Good Karma Cafe.
Open Mic: Monday, January 28 – 7:00 p.m.: HotHouse member Jaylene Clark Owens hosts Open Mics based on the themes of the shows in the current Wilma season. Participants are encouraged to showcase poetry, artwork, or songs inspired by the play.
Beer Night: Friday, January 25 – 7:00 p.m.: Patrons can grab a free beer from local craft breweries before the show with the pre-show beer tasting.
Young Friends Night: Friday, February 1 – 7:00 p.m.: A special pre- and post-show meet and greet for audience members age 21 – 40. Open Caption Performance: Saturday, January 26 – 2:00 p.m.

Tickets: Ticket prices range from $33-$48 (all fees included). Student and theater industry tickets are available for $10 for every performance as a part of the Wilma WynTix Initiative. Tickets are available at the Wilma’s Box Office by visiting wilmatheater.org, calling 215.546.7824, or by coming to the theater.

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.

FACT SHEET:
What: Romeo and Juliet By William Shakespeare
Directed by Blanka Zizka
Where: The Wilma Theater 265 South Broad Street Philadelphia, PA 19107
When: January 15- February 9, 2019
Summary: No balcony. No tights. An age old feud of violence and power, spiraling out of control. A generation seeking more meaning than their parents’ world will allow. A burgeoning love that tries to defy it all. Join Blanka Zizka and the HotHouse Company for a music-infused retelling of Shakespeare’s famous love story, featuring a live onstage band led by Philadelphia singer/songwriter Gracie Martin.
Tickets: Ticket prices range from $33-$48 (all fees included). Student and theater industry tickets are available for $10 for every performance as a part of the Wilma WynTix Initiative. Tickets are available at the Wilma’s Box Office by visiting wilmatheater.org, calling 215.546.7824, or by coming to the theater.
Interim Press Contact: Please contact James Haskins at 215.893.9456 x110, or jhaskins@wilmatheater.org.

Cast:
Krista Apple as Nurse Taysha Marie Canales as Juliet Keith Conallen as Prince/Apothecary Suli Holum as Lady Capulet Justin Jain as Tybalt Anthony Martinez-Briggs as Mercutio Kevin Meehan as Benvolio Steven Rishard as Lord Capulet Lindsay Smiling as Friar Lawrence Matteo Scammel as Romeo
Artistic Team:
Director: Blanka Zizka
Set Designer: Matt Saunders Lighting Designer: Maria Shaplin
Costume Designer: Vasilija Zivanic Sound Designer: Chris Sannino
Music Director/Composer: Gracie Martin
Dramaturg: Walter Bilderback
Stage Manager: Patreshettarlini Adams
Production Manager: Clayton Tejada