Becky Shaw, Havel, Fugard and Premiere of Language Rooms Will Play Philly's Wilma

News   Becky Shaw, Havel, Fugard and Premiere of Language Rooms Will Play Philly's Wilma Pulitzer Prize finalist Becky Shaw by Gina Gionfriddo is among the titles in Wilma Theater's 2009-10 season in Philadelphia.

The well-reviewed Off-Broadway hit is about Suzanna, who decides to set her best friend Max up on a blind date with her husband's mysterious co-worker, Becky Shaw, setting into motion "a series of cataclysmic events forever changing all of their lives," according to Wilma notes.

Also booked for the coming season at the Philly not-for-profit are the world premiere of Yussef El Guindi's Language Rooms, "a subversive dark comedy about two Arab-American interrogators"; the U.S. premiere of Václav Havel's Leaving, the writer's first play in 20 years; and Coming Home by South Africa's Athol Fugard.

Co-artistic directors Blanka Zizka and Jiri Zizka have run the resident theatre for 30 years.

"We are thrilled to present a surprising collection of comedy and drama from both celebrated playwrights and fresh new talent," Blanka Zizka stated. "The plays we have chosen, all written in the past three years, explore with immediacy, great originality, humor and poignancy the dilemmas facing people caught in our chaotic modern world."

Subscriptions and tickets are available by calling (215) 546-7824, visiting The Wilma Theater box office located at 265 South Broad Street in Philadelphia, or online at www.wilmatheater.org. Single tickets for the 2009-2010 season go on sale July 1. *

The Wilma season opens with Coming Home (Oct. 14-Nov. 15), the latest play by internationally acclaimed South African playwright Athol Fugard (Master Harold…and the boys), directed by Blanka Zizka. In it, according to Wilma notes, "Veronika Jonkers left her cherished grandfather's farm in South Africa to pursue her dream of becoming a cabaret singer in Cape Town. Years later, she returns to her hometown with broken dreams, a painful secret, and the unflinching hope of building a new life for her young son."

Following will be the Philadelphia premiere of Becky Shaw (Dec. 30, 2009–Jan. 31, 2010) from the Obie Award-winning Gionfriddo, who penned After Ashley. Jiri Zizka directs.

Blanka Zizka will direct the world premiere of Language Rooms (March 3-April 4, 2010) by Egyptian-born playwright El Guindi, who was recently recognized by The American Theatre Critics Association with its 2009 Osborn New Play Award for an emerging playwright.

In the dark comedy, we'll meet "two Arab-American interrogators at an undisclosed American facility somewhere in the world. They strive to prove themselves the best at their jobs in the midst of absurd office politics and management constantly questioning their loyalties and dedication to 'the company.' …This play will spark debate about family relationships, identity, the War on Terror, and the corruption of the American Dream. Shifting between comedy and political suspense, the play conjures up a surprising twist not to be given away."

Closing the season will be the U.S. premiere of Leaving (May 19-June 20, 2010) by Václav Havel, translated by Paul Wilson. Renowned playwright and former President of the Czech Republic, Havel had not written a play in 20 years until this one. The "epic production" will be directed by Jiri Zizka, also from Prague, who previously directed the Off-Broadway production of Havel's Temptation and the feature film of Havel's "Largo Desolato."

According to Wilma, "Leaving is an inventive story of a recently retired Chancellor who struggles with his family and functionaries over questions of truth and power. Allusions from Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard and Shakespeare's King Lear invade the Chancellor's consciousness in this wry political tragicomedy."