After a successful run at the National Black Theatre in Harlem, Kill Move Paradise makes its Philadelphia premiere at The Wilma Theater. Written by award-winning local playwright and HotHouse Affiliated Artist James Ijames, Kill Move Paradise follows Isa, Grif, Daz, and Tiny as they find themselves in an afterlife. Together they confront the police brutality and violent power structure that placed them there and help each other embrace the paradise waiting for them. Kill Move Paradise will run from September 4th through the 23rd and will be a part of the 2018 Philadelphia Fringe Festival.
Playwright James Ijames describes his play as “an expressionistic buzz saw through the contemporary myth that ‘all lives matter.’” In a time when the narratives of slain Black men are reduced at large to their tragic deaths, Kill Move Paradise is, to quote Ijames, “a portrait of the slain, not as degenerates who deserved death but as heroes who demand that we see them for the splendid beings they are.”
Together the characters depict the external narratives and stereotypes placed on them, and illuminate their hollowness and artifice. The characters all share an acute, sometimes intensely uncomfortable, awareness of the audience, referred to by the characters at times as “America,” a way for them and Ijames to highlight how the silent, passive consumption of the destruction of racism is an integral component of its structure. Though the play unflinchingly tackles these issues of violence and injustice, it is buoyed by its ultimate focus on transcendence. Ijames creates a space in his play for the physical and spiritual transformation of these men, activated through their healing of one another.
The Honorary Producers for Kill Move Paradise are Linda and David Glickstein.
About the Playwright
James Ijames is a Philadelphia based performer and playwright. He has appeared regionally in productions at The Arden Theatre Company, The Philadelphia Theatre Company, InterAct Theatre Company, The Wilma Theater, Baltimore Center Stage, Mauckingbird Theatre Company, and People’s Light and Theatre. James’ plays have been produced by Flashpoint Theater Company, Orbiter 3, Theatre Horizon (Norristown, PA), The National Black Theatre (NYC), Ally Theatre (Washington, DC) and have received development with PlayPenn New Play Conference, The Lark, Playwright’s Horizon, Clubbed Thumb, Villanova Theater, The Gulfshore Playhouse, The Wilma Theater, Azuka Theatre and Victory Gardens. James is the 2011 F. Otto Haas Award for an Emerging Artist recipient, and he also won two Barrymores for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play for Superior Donuts and Angels in America and one Barrymore for Outstanding Direction of a Play for The Brothers Size with Simpatico Theatre Company. James is a 2011 Independence Foundation Fellow, a 2015 Pew Fellow for Playwriting, the 2015 winner of the Terrance McNally New Play Award for WHITE, the 2015 Kesselring Honorable Mention Prize winner for ….Miz Martha and a 2017 recipient of the Whiting Award. James is a founding member of Orbiter 3, Philadelphia’s first playwright producing collective and a mentor for The Foundry. He received a B.A. in Drama from Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA and a M.F.A. in Acting from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. James is Assistant Professor of Theatre at Villanova University and resides in South Philadelphia.
About the Director
Blanka Zizka has been Artistic Director of The Wilma Theater since 1981. In 2011, Blanka refocused the Wilma’s energy on developing practices and programs for local theater artists to create working conditions that support creativity through continuity and experimentation and two seasons ago she founded the Wilma HotHouse Company. At the Wilma, she has directed over 70 plays and musicals. Most recently, Blanka directed Christopher Chen’s world premiere Passage, her own play Adapt!, Andrew Bovell’s When The Rain Stops Falling, Tom Stoppard’s U.S. premiere of The Hard Problem, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, Hamlet, Paula Vogel’s world premiere Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq, Richard Bean’s Under the Whaleback, Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, Tadeusz Słobodzianek’s Our Class, Sarah Ruhl’s In the Next Room…, and Macbeth, which included an original score by Czech composer and percussionist Pavel Fajt. Her other favorite productions are Wajdi Mouawad’s Scorched, Tom Stoppard’s The Invention of Love and 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, the latter of which was co-produced by McCarter Theatre and the Wilma and performed at ACT, Long Wharf, and Manhattan Theatre Club. Blanka was honored to be selected into the 2017 Class of the Innovators Walk of Fame by the University Science Center, which spotlights local innovators. She is a recipient of the 2016 Vilcek Prize, which is awarded annually to immigrants who have made lasting contributions to American society through their extraordinary achievements in biomedical research and the arts and humanities. She received the Zelda Fichandler Award from the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation in 2011, which recognizes individuals who are transforming the national arts landscape with their unique and creative work in the American regional theatre; and she was a Fellow at the 2015 Sundance Institute/LUMA Foundation Theatre Directors Retreat.
Cast and Design Team
The cast of Kill Move Paradise include HotHouse Company member Lindsay Smiling as Isa, HotHouse Resident Artist Anthony Martinez-Briggs as Grif, as well as Wilma newcomers Avery Hannon as Tiny and Brandon Pierce as Daz.
The artistic team includes Set Designer Matt Saunders, Lighting Designer Thom Weaver, Costume Designer LeVonne Lindsay, Original Music and Sound Designer Justin Ellington, Movement Consultant Silvana Cardell, and Dramaturg Walter Bilderback. The production’s resident stage manager is Patreshettarlini Adams, and its production manager is Clayton Tejada.
Cafe Chats: Tuesday, September 4 – 23 – Post-Show
After every performance, join us for an informal discussion about the production with Wilma artists and staff. Discuss what resonated with you during the performance with a drink from Good Karma Cafe. Kill Move Paradise will include a selection of Cafe Chats led by invited guests of The Wilma Theater including:
Kill Move Paradise In Action: A Scholar-Activist PerspectiveThursday, September 13, Post 7:30PM Performancewith Dr. Krystal Strong, Graduate School of Education at University of Pennsylvania
- The Healing Power of Kill Move Paradise
Wednesday, September 19, Post 7:30PM Performance
with Michael O’Bryan, The Village of Arts and Humanities
- Kill Move Paradise as Resistance: Artist Practices and Structures of Power
Saturday, September 22, Post 2:00PM Performance
with Ralph E. Godbolt , Bloomsburg University
Directors Gathering Dialogue: Thursday, September 6 – Post-Show
In this audience-led post-show discussion, a member of the Directors Gathering sits down with the director of the Wilma’s current production to explore the artistic process. Directors Gathering Dialogues are a part of the first Thursday performance of every production.
Open Mic: Monday, September 10 – 7:00pm
HotHouse member Jaylene Clark Owens will hold the first in an ongoing series of Open Mics based on the themes of the shows in the current Wilma Theater season. Participants are encouraged to showcase poetry, artwork, or songs inspired by the play. If you are interested in participating in the Open Mic or coming to support the artists, visit www.wilmatheater.org/killmoveparadise.
Beer Night: Friday, September 14 – 7:00pm
Grab a FREE beer before the show with our pre-show beer tasting. Featuring local craft breweries, Beer Nights are a part of the second Friday performance of every production.
Young Friends Night: Friday, September 21 – 7:00pm
Join our Young Friends Committee before and after the performance as they serve up the best of Philly bites and drinks. Learn more about The Wilma Theater Young Friends on Facebook @WilmaYF.
Open Caption Performance: Saturday, September 15 – 2:00pm
Tickets: Ticket prices range from $33-$48 (all fees included). Student and theater industry tickets are available for $10 for every performance as a part of the Wilma WynTix Initiative. Tickets are available at the Wilma’s Box Office by visiting wilmatheater.org, calling 215.546.7824, or by coming to the theater.
Mission: The Wilma Theater creates living, adventurous art. We engage artists and audiences in imaginative reflection on the complexities of contemporary life. We present bold, original, well-crafted productions that represent a range of voices, viewpoints, and styles.