The Wilma Theater
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.
About The Wilma Theater
Established in 1973 as The Wilma Project, the Wilma challenged the Philadelphia cultural community to create theatrical productions of original material and to develop local artists. From 1973 through 1979, the Wilma dazzled the Philadelphia public by presenting work with renowned avante garde theater artists, including the Bread & Puppet Theatre, Mabou Mines, Charles Ludlam's Ridiculous Theatrical Company, The Wooster Group, Ping Chong & the Fiji Company and Spalding Gray. In 1979, Blanka and Jiri Zizka, natives of Czechoslovakia, forged a creative relationship with the Wilma as artists-in-residence, and gained acclaim for their bold, innovative productions. With a dynamic, physical production style and original music accompaniment, the Zizka's original adaptation of George Orwell's ANIMAL FARM focused a new spotlight of attention on the Wilma. The Zizkas assumed artistic leadership of the organization in 1981, and moved the Wilma to a 100-seat theater on Sansom Street. Within five years, the Wilma's audience had grown dramatically and the Theater was operating at nearly 100% capacity. A decision was made to expand the theater to a new 296-seat home; and in 1989, a location was identified at the corner of Broad and Spruce Streets. In 1996, the Wilma opened its new facility on Philadelphia's Avenue of the Arts. Designed by renowned theater architect Hugh Hardy, the new 296-seat theater retains the Wilma's intimate flavor while enhancing and expanding its performance space, establishing an ideal home for the Zizkas' artistic vision. During the Zizkas' tenure, The Wilma Theater has established a national reputation for provocative work ranging from the international drama of Bertolt Brecht, Athol Fugard, Eugene Ionesco, Joe Orton and Tom Stoppard to new American plays by Tina Howe, Romulus Linney, Quincy Long, Doug Wright, Amy Freed and many others, as well as premiering Jiri Zizka's original adaptations of classic novels. In 1995, Blanka Zizka's Barrymore Award-winning production of Jim Cartwright's ROAD was presented at the International Theater Festival in the Czech Republic, the first American company to be invited. CBS News called the Wilma "one playhouse that has emerged from the shadow of the Great White Way to make history on its own." At the Wilma, a great theater experience does not end at curtain call. With each production, the Wilma offers free or low-cost discussions which address topics and themes relevant to the play. Our Student Sunday Program exposes students to live theater, providing tickets for as little as $10. Our Fellowship and Internship Programs provide valuable training to students and recent graduates in all aspects of professional theater.
Philadelphia, PA 19107View on Google Maps
Transportation & Parking
Free, ample parking is available near the theater: in the lot adjacent to the theater behind National Penn Bank, on the street, and in the Municipal Lot behind the shops on Mill St. Parking is limited in the lot behind National Penn Bank. For weekday matinees and anytime during banking hours, this lot is not available. Please note that this is not theater property and your car may be towed if you park there during banking hours. The municipal lot is free and open to the public. It’s an easy, short walk to theater: head towards the river and turn left towards the King George Inn. There is also ample metered street parking on Mill St, Radcliffe St, and Market St. Parking is free on weekends and after 6pm on weekdays.
Market-Frankfort15th & Market
Trolley15th & Market
Regional RailSuburban Station
PATCO12/13th & Locust Street