Don Juan Comes to Philly

Posted Tuesday, March 4, 2014 - 6:11pm

Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq is the result of two years of development, beginning with a conversation between Paula Vogel and Blanka Zizka during a playwriting “boot camp” led by Ms. Vogel in January 2011, where they discovered a mutual love of the Weimar Era playwright Ödön von Horvath.  The conversation continued when Ms. Vogel spoke on the Wilma stage with her protégée Sarah Ruhl during the run of In the Next Room.  This led to a decision, months later, to write a new play inspired by Horvath’s Don Juan Comes Home From the War.  What followed was a process very unusual in the American theater: months of conversations between the artistic collaborators expanded to include encounters with veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan in interviews and playwriting workshops led by Ms. Vogel in Philadelphia, DC, and New York; the play was cast nearly a year ago, at a point when only a few pages of text existed, and the full script grew out of work with the actors in two workshops.  During the December workshop, Paula and Blanka sat down for a conversation about the project.  Here is the full transcript:

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Posted Friday, February 14, 2014 - 7:24pm

Rehearsals have begun!  On Friday, February 14, playwright Paula Vogel and director Blanka Zizka conducted the first read-thru of the World Premiere play DON JUAN COMES HOME FROM IRAQ.  In the Wilma's lobby, the 9 actors jumped into the exciting new script with a captive audience of Wilma artists, staff, and guests.



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The Wilma's pop-up garden

Posted Tuesday, January 7, 2014 - 12:13pm

To accompany Lisa D'Amour's camping comedy CHEROKEE, we have constructed an indoor garden right in our own lobby!  Patrons can enjoy a variety of greenery and garden ephemera in the warmth of our lobby before embarking on a camping trip with the cast of CHEROKEE.  Everything in our garden is alive and nurtured daily:

CHRISTMAS ROSE (Helleborus niger)
DEER FOOT FERN (Davallia fejeensis)
INKBERRY HOLLY (Ilex glabra ‘densa’)
INKBERRY HOLLY SHAMROCK (Ilex glabra ‘shamrock’)
MACHO FERN (Nephrolepis biserrata ‘macho’)
NORFOLK PINE (Araucaria heterophylla)
PEAT MOSS (Sphagnum palustre)
RED OSIER DOGWOOD (Cornus sericea)
WITCH HAZEL (Hamamelis virginiana)

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First Rehearsal

Posted Wednesday, December 11, 2013 - 11:52am

Actors, designers, director, and playwright unite for Cherokee first rehearsal! Here are some shots from yesterday's read-thru.


The five cast member convene to discuss Wilma business, most importantly the theater's upcoming Secret Santa Holiday party.

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The World of Cherokee

Posted Monday, December 9, 2013 - 12:21pm

In our upcoming World Premiere of Cherokee, two couples from Houston embark on a life-changing camping trip in Cherokee, North Carolina. Here's a quick guide to the world of Cherokee.

Cherokee, NC –
Cherokee is located in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains in western North Carolina. It is the center of the Qualla Boundary, the home of the Easter Band of Cherokee Indians. It is a major tourist attraction in the Southeastern U.S. because of its magnificent scenery, a Harrah’s casino, and a summer outdoor drama, Unto These Hills.

Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians – the history of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is far too complex to do justice to in a short passage. It is composed of descendants of those few Cherokee (perhaps as few as 700) who were able to remain in the East when the rest of the Cherokee Nation was forced to leave on the “Trail of Tears” in 1838. Some of those who stayed behind held land titles under the Reservation Act of 1819, but most were fugitives who fled to the mountains. Will Thomas, an adopted Cherokee and a lawyer who had defended the land title rights against the Indian Removal Act of 1830, bought land in his own name with Cherokee money (native people could not hold property), allowing these fugitive Cherokee to live there. This ambiguous situation lasted until 1870, when those living on the land were able to obtain a corporate charter. They then wrote a Constitution. The Eastern Band continues to operate under both a Constitution and corporate charter. There are now around 12, 500 members of the Eastern Band. Their land is officially the Qualla Boundary, a land trust, although it is often called the “Cherokee Indian Reservation.”

The “Trail of Tears” – in 1830, the Indian Removal Act was passed, declaring that all members of the “Five Civilized Tribes” – the Cherokee, Choctaw, Seminole, Muscogee-Creek, and Chickasaw – be relocated west of the Mississippi, to what is now Oklahoma. President Andrew Jackson argued that this was a question of federalism, although pressure from white settlers for land and a gold rush in the southern Appalachians played a strong part. The Trail of Tears lasted for more than a decade. The Cherokee held out until 1838, taking their case to the U.S. Supreme Court; in Florida, it prompted the Second Seminole War (1835-1842), in which approximately 3,000 Indians and soldiers died. The Cherokee “relocation” started in the dead of winter. Approximately 16,000 Cherokee started on the Trail of Tears; 4,000 died before reaching their destination.

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