Hamlet is most likely the best-known play in the world - it is certainly one of the most performed, filmed, quoted, and written about. Thinkers including Hegel, Marx, and Freud have drawn upon it in developing their theories. The play’s influence is so widespread some consider its title character, along with his contemporaries Faust, Don Juan, and Don Quixote, to have the status of a myth.
The Wilma’s productions of Hamlet and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead demonstrate Blanka Zizka’s evolving vision to create work around a company of artists, incorporating training and ensemble building to further develop the talents of the Philadelphia acting community. Prior to the commencement of formal rehearsal, company members were involved in training and workshops. NOW the company has come together to start their work on Shakespeare's greatest work, Hamlet.
Here are some shots from the rehearsal room!
Dear Audience Members,
Welcome to the exquisite play The Body of an American by Dan O’Brien. It’s an amazing moment when you read a play for the first time and realize that you have come across a complex, poetic, precise, philosophical, politically aware, smart writer whose work you hadn’t known. It’s a dizzyingly exciting moment in the life of the Artistic Director.
The play received its premiere at Portland Center Stage in 2013. However, at the time I was unaware of it. I read the script for the first time in December 2013. Since then, The Body of an American, according to London reviews, received a terrific and intense production at London’s Gate Theatre in 2014. This November Dan was shortlisted at the London Evening Standard Theatre Awards as the most promising playwright. A month earlier, The Body of an American received the Horton Foote Award for Outstanding New American Play. Previous awards for the script included the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired By American History, the PEN Center USA Award for Drama, and the L. Arnold Weissberger Award. That’s a lot of recognition and awards for a play that is only receiving its second US production at the Wilma. I hope that our production will inspire other artistic directors around the country to produce this immaculately written and riveting play.
"I knew I wanted to write about him, but I didn't know how, or whether he'd let me. But I did something I'd never done before; I wrote to a stranger, and he wrote back."
- Dan O'Brien
Playwright Dan O'Brien and photojournalist Paul Watson began e-mails exchanges in 2007, eventually leading up to a meeting in the Arctic Circle in 2010. As you will see in the play, the event that inspired Dan's first e-mail to Paul occurred 14 years prior. Here is a detailed timeline of the events expressed in The Body of an American.
1987 - Paul Watson begins working for The Toronto Star in Canada.
1993 - Paul clicks the shutter in Mogadishu, Somalia. The Battle of Mogadishu was fought
in October, 1993 in Mogadishu, Somalia, between US forces and Somali militiamen
loyal to the self-proclaimed president-to-be Mohamed Farrah Aidid. A US Army force
in Mogadishu (Delta Force) attempted to seize two of Aidid’s lieutenants during a
meeting in the city. Shortly after the assault began, Somali militia and armed civilian
fighters shot down two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. The battle resulted in 18 deaths,
80 wounded, and one helicopter pilot captured among the US raid party and rescue
forces. American sources estimate between 1,500 and 3,000 Somali casualties,
If you could ask anyone at the Wilma - actors, designers, directors, staff members - just ONE question, what would it be? For our next question, we asked Resident Stage Manager Patreshettarlini (Pat) Adams and Digital Communications Manager Johnny Van Heest a Wilma One Question.
The Body of an American chronicles the friendship between playwright Dan O'Brien and photojournalist Paul Watson - a friendship that was developed over three years of email exchanges. It's remarkable how such a profound relationship began with letters between two strangers.
So we asked, have you ever had a pen pal?