PHILADELPHIA – The Wilma Theater is pleased to announce the final production of its 2011/2012 Season, Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches, by Tony Kushner, directed by Blanka Zizka. The recipient of many prestigious awards, including two Tonys® and a Pulitzer Prize, and hailed by The New York Times as “The most thrilling American play in years!,” Angels in America is one of the most honored plays in a generation. Angels in America begins previews on Wednesday, May 23, 2012; opens on Wednesday, May 30, 2012; and closes on Sunday, July 1, 2012. Millennium Approaches will return next season, alongside the Wilma’s 20th Anniversary production of Angels in America, Part Two: Perestroika, to kick off our 2012/2013 season.
Critics and members of the press are invited to attend Press Night on Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 7:30pm. For ticket arrangements, contact Johnny Van Heest at email@example.com or 215.893.9456 x102.
The year is 1985. In New York City, Roy Cohn, the politically powerful right-wing lawyer, angrily denies his diagnosis of AIDS, while his protégé, a court clerk and Republican Mormon, struggles with a Valium-addicted wife. Simultaneously, an ailing yet spirited gay man begins to hear messages from a supernatural being that build to an exhilarating conclusion.
“The AIDS crisis of the 1980s provoked Tony Kushner to write a play of a scope and complexity that, I believe, we had not seen before, nor have we seen since, in this country,” director Blanka Zizka states. “The playwright gives the play the subtitle ‘A Gay Fantasia on National Themes,’ and clearly points out his own sexual identity and establishes the vantage point for his imagination. Through one of the characters (the Oldest Living Bolshevik in Perestroika), Kushner asks old but profoundly existential questions that reverberate throughout the whole play and concern all the characters (Gays, Jews, Mormons, WASPs, African-Americans, and those with and without power ): Where did we come from? What are we doing? Where are we going? I personally count Angels in America among the great classics, and, as any great classic, the play engages these questions on personal, philosophical, political, and cosmic levels. Twenty years later after the first production, as I work on the play, I find its themes as relevant and urgent as ever.”
Additional community programming will accompany the Wilma’s production of Angels in America, including a panel discussion by some of Philadelphia’s foremost LGBT leaders, and a lobby exhibit. For a complete schedule of Philadelphia-based outreach, visit wilmatheater.org
Millennium Approaches was commissioned and first performed in 1990 by the Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles as a workshop. It received its world premiere in May, 1991, in a production by the Eureka Theatre Company of San Francisco. It debuted on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theatre in 1993. Angels in America has been produced extensively throughout the world since.
About the Playwright
Tony Kushner’s plays include A Bright Room Called Day; Angels in America, Parts One and Two; Slavs!; Homebody/Kabul; Caroline, or Change, a musical with composer Jeanine Tesori; and The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide To Capitalism And Socialism With A Key To The Scriptures. He wrote the libretto for the opera A Blizzard on Marblehead Neck, also with Ms. Tesori. He has adapted and translated Pierre Corneille’s The Illusion, S.Y. Ansky’s The Dybbuk, Bertolt Brecht’s The Good Person of Sezuan and Mother Courage and Her Children; and the English-language libretto for the opera Brundibár by Hans Krasa. He wrote the screenplays for Mike Nichols’ film of Angels in America, and Steven Spielberg’s Munich. His books include Brundibar, with illustrations by Maurice Sendak; The Art of Maurice Sendak, 1980 to the Present; and Wrestling With Zion: Progressive Jewish-American Responses to the Palestinian/Israeli Conflict, co-edited with Alisa Solomon. Kushner is the recipient of a Pultizer Prize, two Tony® Awards, three Obie Awards, two Evening Standard Awards, an Olivier Award, an Emmy Award and an Oscar nomination, among other honors. In 2008, he was the first recipient of the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award. He lives in Manhattan with his husband, Mark Harris.
About the Director
Blanka Zizka has been Founding Artistic Director of The Wilma Theater since 1981. Blanka most recently directed Tadeusz Słobodzianek’s Our Class; Sarah Ruhl’s In the Next Room, or the vibrator play, which received eight Barrymore awards; and Macbeth, which included an original score by Czech composer and percussionist Pavel Fajt. Blanka has directed over 60 plays and musicals at the Wilma. This fall Blanka received the Zelda Fichandler Award from the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation, which recognizes an outstanding director or choreographer transforming the regional arts landscape. Her recent favorite productions are Wajdi Mouawad’s Scorched, Tom Stoppard’s Rock ’n’ Roll, Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice (which featured an original score by composer Toby Twining, now available from Cantaloupe Records), 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, which was co-produced by McCarter Theatre and the Wilma and also performed at ACT Seattle, Long Wharf, and Manhattan Theatre Club. Blanka was also privileged to direct Rosemary Harris and John Cullum in Ariel Dorfman’s The Other Side at MTC. For the Academy of Vocal Arts, she directed the opera Kát’a Kabanová by Leoš Janáček. She has collaborated with many playwrights including Yussef El Guindi, Doug Wright, Sarah Ruhl, Tom Stoppard, Linda Griffiths, Polly Pen, Dael Orlandersmith, Laurence Klavan, Lillian Groag, Jason Sherman, Amy Freed, Robert Sherwood, and Chay Yew. Her favorite productions are, even after all these years, Tom Stoppard’s The Invention of Love and Jim Cartwright’s Road.
About the Cast
Angels in America will feature a cast of acclaimed New York, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia-based actors including Kate Czajkowski (Barrymore nomination for the Wilma’s In The Next Room, or the vibrator play) as Harper, Aubrey Deeker as Prior, Maia DeSanti as Angel, James Ijames (2011 recipient of the
F. Otto Haas Award for an Emerging Philadelphia Theatre Artist) as Belize, Stephen Novelli (Eurydice) as Roy, Benjamin Pelteson as Louis, Mary Elizabeth Scallen as Hannah, and Luigi Sottile (Barrymore nomination for the Wilma’s In the Next Room, or the vibrator play) as Joe.
The set is designed by Matt Saunders (Curse of the Starving Class), costumes are designed by Oana Botez-Ban (Our Class, In the Next Room, or the vibrator play), lighting designed by Russell Champa (Barrymore Awards for The Invention of Love, Red, and Quills, other Wilma productions include The Threepenny Opera, Bed and Sofa, and Perfect Pie), and sound designed by Christopher Colucci (Curse of the Starving Class, In the Next Room, or the vibrator play). Matt Saunders, Oana Botez-Ban, and Christopher Colucci all received Barrymore Awards for their work with In the Next Room, or the vibrator play.
The Wilma Theater is a proud participant of AIDS Education Month during June, 2012, sponsored by Philadelphia FIGHT. For a complete list of events associated with AIDS Education Month, visit fight.org
A number of special, behind-the-scenes Onstage Conversations will accompany the production and provide audiences with the opportunity to engage with the artistic staff of the Wilma.
Thursday, May 31, 2012
Stay after the performance to discuss the play with a member of the Wilma’s artistic staff.
Thursday, June 7, 2012
Stay after the performance to discuss the play with the cast.
Young Friends Evening
Friday, June 15, 2012
Complimentary pre-show reception for audience members age 35 and under.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012, immediately following the matinee
Stay after the matinee performance to discuss the play with a member of the Wilma’s artistic staff in the lobby with complimentary coffee.
Tria Pre-Show Wine Tasting
Friday, June 22, 2012
Join us for a complimentary, pre-show wine tasting in our lobby from 7 – 8pm sponsored by Tria.
Community Conversation: The impact of HIV/AIDS in Philadelphia
Monday, June 25, 2012, 7:30pm
The Wilma Theater will present a free Community Conversation to discuss the present-day impact of HIV/AIDS in Philadelphia, in conjunction with The Wilma Theater’s production of Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches and AIDS Education Month, sponsored by Philadelphia FIGHT. Speakers representing Philadelphia FIGHT, the Mazzoni Center, the William Way LGBT Center, and The City of Philadelphia Mayor’s Office for LGBT Affairs will discuss current topics and issues regarding HIV/AIDS in Philadelphia with an audience Q&A to follow. In addition to the Community Conversation, The Wilma Theater will also present a comprehensive exhibit which will examine the impact of HIV/AIDS in Philadelphia through cultural material provided by leading Philadelphia-based HIV/AIDS and LGBT organizations. The exhibit will be on display through the run of Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches.
Tickets range from $39 to $66, and are available at the Wilma’s Box Office by calling 215.546.7824, visiting wilmatheater.org, or coming to the theater, located at 265 South Broad Street in Philadelphia. Discounted ticket options are available for students, groups, or anyone in their 20s. Information on discounts is available at wilmatheater.org
The Doubletree Hotel, FISH Restaurant, and The Sporting Club at The Bellevue are the Season Sponsors for The Wilma Theater’s 2011 – 2012 Season.
Daniel Berger is the Honorary Producer for Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches.