Another year, another offering of great theater in Philadelphia. I was happy to once again take up the mantle of defining the look of the Wilma Theater's 2014/2015 productions. This season tackles friendship, feminism, responsibility, identity, and even the Bard himself.
Rapture, Blister, Burn follows celebrity professor Catherine as she reunites with her best friends from graduate school, now a married couple with kids living in a New England college town. Her homecoming leads to shifting dynamics among the three friends, as well as a larger look at how much (or little) the lives of women have evolved over the past century through subjects ranging from pornography to Betty Friedan to slasher films.
In the two-hander play The Body of an American, Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Paul Watson is haunted by the memories of war and the guilt that comes with capturing the infamous last moments of a soldier’s humiliation in Mogadishu. Playwright Dan O’Brien reached out to Paul and the two formed an unusual friendship spanning time and continents.
In the spring, the Wilma will stage back-to-back productions of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Tom Stoppard’s now classic behind-the-scenes comedy Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, both directed by Wilma Artistic Director Blanka Zizka and using essentially the same cast for both productions. The title character in Shakespeare’s tragedy will be played by the powerful actress Zainab Jah, who appeared as Prudence in last season’s production of The Convert.
Following Shakespeare’s great tragedy will be one of Tom Stoppard’s greatest comedies as the Wilma tells the story of Hamlet through the eyes of two very different characters. In Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, minor characters take center stage as they bring Prince Hamlet to England, unknowingly sailing towards a fate Shakespeare has already scripted for them.