Who are we if not you and me? On which side of history are we going to be? Is place an illusion? Are we borrowing the here and now and if we are from whom? Is destruction an inseparable component of love? These are some of the questions posed by Lebanese poet and artist Etel Adnan in her introspective poem There: In the Light and the Darkness of the Self and of the Other. Renowned visual artist and filmmaker Rosa Barba and Wilma Theater Artistic Director Blanka Zizka team up to create this world premiere adaptation of this poem. In collaboration with the Wilma HotHouse acting company and composer / sound designer Alex Dowling, this project is an experiment in theater making. There will be presented in partnership with FringeArts for the 2019 Fringe Festival.
About Etel Adnan
Adnan was born in 1925 and raised in Beirut, Lebanon following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. She studied philosophy at the Sorbonne, Paris. In January 1955 she went to the United States to pursue postgraduate studies in philosophy at U.C. Berkeley and Harvard. From 1958 to 1972, she taught philosophy at Dominican College of San Rafael, California. In 1972, with the onset of the Algerian war for independence she moved back to Beirut and began a lauded practice in visual arts, returning to poetry through her participation in the poet’s movement against the Vietnam War and working as cultural editor for two daily newspapers—first for Al Safa, then for L’Orient le Jour. She stayed in Lebanon until 1976. In 1977, her novel Sitt Marie-Rose was published in Paris, and won the “France-Pays Arabes” award. In the late seventies, she wrote texts for two documentaries made by Jocelyne Saab, on the civil war in Lebanon, which were shown on French television as well as in Europe and Japan. She is also a renowned visual artist.
Rosa Barba was born in 1972, in Sicily, Italy and now lives and works in Berlin. She has had solo exhibitions at Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt; MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge MA; MAXXI, Rome; and the Tate Modern, London. In addition, her work has been included in numerous group exhibitions including MASS MoCA, Massachusetts; Akademie der Künste, Berlin and La Cinémathèque Française, Paris. She has participated in the 8th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art; 19th Biennale of Sydney; 2010 Liverpool Biennial and the 52nd and 53rd Venice Biennale. Subconscious Society, a Feature was awarded the 2016 International Prize for Contemporary Art, Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco.
About Blanka Zizka
Blanka Zizka has been the Artistic Director of The Wilma Theater since 1981. She has directed over 60 plays and musicals for the Wilma. Zizka most recently directed Romeo and Juliet, Kill Move Paradise, the world premiere of Passage by Christopher Chen, and the world premiere of her own play Adapt! In April 2016, Zizka was awarded the Vilcek Prize for Excellence in Theatre, which is given annually to immigrants who have made lasting contributions to American society through their extraordinary achievements in biomedical research and the arts and humanities. In the fall of 2011, Zizka received the Zelda Fichandler Award from the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation, which recognizes an outstanding director or choreographer transforming the regional arts landscape; and she was a Fellow at the 2015 Sundance Institute/LUMA Foundation Theatre Directors Retreat. For the past eight years, since her production of Our Class in 2011, Zizka has been developing practices and programs for local theater artists to create working conditions that support creativity through continuity and experimentation. The result of this vision, Wilma’s HotHouse Company, was piloted with the fall 2015 production of Antigone and formally launched in January 2016. Zizka has collaborated with many playwrights, including James Ijames, Christopher Chen, Paula Vogel, Tom Stoppard, Sarah Ruhl, Dael Orlandersmith, Doug Wright, and Chay Yew.
About the Wilma HotHouse
Wilma HotHouse is, at its heart, Wilma’s investment in the artistic community of Philadelphia. It serves as the central vehicle to bring our work to audiences. Launched in 2016, Wilma HotHouse has become an incubator for artists, artistic exploration, learning, and practice; allowing us to dive more deeply into new projects and develop them over longer periods of time. The core group of actors performing on our stage are members of Wilma Hothouse.
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.
Tickets are available now and may be purchased at http://www.wilmatheater.org/tickets. Tickets are $15 for students and industry and $28 for patrons under 35 (Valid ID proof required). General admission tickets range from $35-$52. All fees are included. Tickets are available at the Wilma’s Box Office by visiting wilmatheater.org, calling 215.546.7824, or in person at the theater.
Opening Night/Press Night- September 13, 2019 8pm
Cafe Chats: After every performance an informal discussion about the production with Wilma artists and staff will be held in Good Karma Café.
Sneak Peaks: September 11, September 12, September 18, September 19, 2019 at 6:30pm: An inside look at the themes, content, and history of each production, including a pre-show tour.
Open Caption Performance: September 22, 2019 at 2pm
Etel Adnan Panel: Sunday, September 15 post-show: A discussion of Etel Adnan’s poetry, moderated by Laynie Browne, featuring: Jena Osman of Temple University; Kaelen Wilson-Goldie, author of Etel Adnan, the poet’s first book-length biography; and Sarah Riggs, poet and translator of Time, a collection of Adnan’s rare works written in French.