Abraham, Antaramian, Buck, Shafir Are Scorched in Philly Feb. 25-March 29

News   Abraham, Antaramian, Buck, Shafir Are Scorched in Philly Feb. 25-March 29 Scorched, the acclaimed play by Lebanese-Canadian playwright Wajdi Mouawad makes its East Coast premiere at Philadelphia's Wilma Theatre starting Feb. 25, directed by the Wilma's co-artistic director, Blanka Zizka.

The Wilma's production of the internationally popular play (translated by Linda Gaboriau) is the second U.S. production. It opens March 4 and continues to March 29.

According to the Wilma, "In this epic mystery, twins Janine and Simon receive a surprising request in their late mother's will: to deliver letters to a father they thought was dead and a brother they never knew existed. These tasks lead them on a suspenseful journey to the heart of their mother's war-torn Middle Eastern homeland. Unraveling the mystery, they learn about her concealed history as a political activist and prisoner of war and uncover shocking secrets about their own origins."

*

According to Wilma, Mouawad himself was a witness to the beginnings of Lebanon's civil war. In 1975, at six years of age, he was a bystander to an attack on a bus full of civilians, a scene that is recounted in Scorched.

Zizka stresses the universal aspects of the play. She stated, "Wajdi Mouawad is deeply interested in exploring both the human potential for hate, revenge and destruction and the potential for consolation, love and forgiveness. Scorched is both epic and an intimate family drama. As I was closely following the recent conflict in Gaza, the play's stubborn insistence to bear witness, to refuse silence and to speak has become even more potent." The Wilma's production of Scorched features original music by Iraqi-American composer Amir ElSaffar.

The cast includes Jolly Abraham as Sawda; 2006 Barrymore Award winner Jacqueline Antaramian as Nawal (40-45 years old); Aadya Bedi as Nawal (16-19 years old); Leila Buck as Janine; Janis Dardaris, a Wilma veteran of six plays, as Nawal (60-65 years old); Omar Koury as The Man/Antoine; Philadelphia-based actor Benjamin Lloyd as Alphonse Lebel; J. Paul Nicholas as Nihad/Ralph; and Ariel Shafir as Simon/Wahab.

The creative team includes set designer Ola Maslik, lighting designer Thom Weaver, costume designer Oana Botez-Ban, Barrymore Award-winning sound designer Jorge Cousineau and composer Amir ElSaffar.

Wajdi Mouawad is an actor, director, translator, and playwright who was born in Lebanon in 1968. In the script's introduction of Scorched, Mouawad is described as "Lebanese in his childhood, French in his way of thinking and Québécois in his theatre. That's what happens when you spend your childhood in Beirut, your adolescence in Paris and then try to become an adult in Montreal." IN Montréal, Mouawad entered the French section of the National Theatre School and graduated in 1991. He co-founded Theatre O Parleur in 1990 with Isabelle Leblanc. For his first play, Willy Protagoras enfermé dans les toilettes, Mouawad won le Grand Prix de la Critique from the Association québécoise des critiques de théâtre. He won the Governor General's Award from the Canada Council for the Arts for Littoral (Tideline), the first part of an intended tetralogy that has continued with Incendies (Scorched), which also won a Governor General's Award, and most recently, Forêts (Forests). Other accolades include being named Chevalier de l'Ordre National des Arts et des Lettres in France, France's prestigious Molière Award (which Mouawad declined in protest to what he saw as the indifference of French theatre directors to contemporary playwrights), and finalist for Canada's largest annual theatre award, the Siminovitch Prize in playwriting. With a major following in French theatre circles, Mouawad's plays have been translated into many languages and have played at numerous national and international venues. Mouawad is currently touring with his one-man show, Seuls.

Tickets start at $39 and are available at the Wilma Box Office by calling (215) 546-7824, visiting 265 S. Broad Street, or online at www.wilmatheater.org.