Philadelphia's Wilma Theater has revealed its plans for a new audience-seating model that aims to provide a higher level of safety and comfort during the public health crisis and beyond—once gatherings in the theatre, and safe rehearsals, are permitted.
The Wilma Globe model, inspired by Shakespeare's Globe theatre, is an arena surrounded by two levels of audiences-boxes, each separated from one another by wooden dividers, but open to the stage.
Depending on the specific needs of the show, the Globe can be reconfigured into a semi-circle, horseshoe, and other designs, and can sit anywhere between 35 and 100 people. Additionally, the theatre will install about a dozen cameras per production, so as to allow the company to stream its shows to a wider audience.
The Wilma Globe was designed by set designers Misha Kachman, Sara Brown, and Matt Saunders, with important input from video designer Jorge Cousineau.
“From the very first day of this pandemic, we all agreed to take this crisis as a challenge, an opportunity to rethink and to reinvent,” shares Wilma's lead artistic director Yury Urnov (Wilma's current leadership model features a four-member Artistic Director team that also includes founding artistic director Blanka Zizka, James Ijames, and Morgan Green).
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“Flexibility and Innovation are the two central principles guiding us," continues Urnov. "These principles have led us to a plan for next season, of which we are very proud. We began by asking ourselves a question: How can we stay close, yet apart? In response to this challenge, we came up with the Wilma Globe.”
Wilma's 2020–2021 season features Will Arbery’s Heroes of the Fourth Turning, New Saloon’s Minor Character, the world premiere of James Ijames’ Fat Ham, and Jackie Sibblies Drury’s Fairview. For more information, visit wilmatheatre.org.