The Wilma Theater was founded in 1973 as the Wilma Project; in 1979, Blanka Zizka and Jiri Zizka of Czechoslovakia forged a creative relationship with the Wilma Project as artists-in-residence. They gained swift acclaim for their bold, innovative productions and assumed artistic leadership, changing the name to The Wilma Theater. After many seasons of producing theater at various locations, the Wilma opened a new, state-of-the-art 300-seat theater on The Avenue of the Arts in 1996. Under the artistic leadership of Blanka Zizka, the Wilma has since taken its place in the vanguard of Philadelphia theater, and serves as a leader and a mentor within its artistic community.
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.
We produce four main stage productions each year, serving an audience of over 40,000 across all of our programs. Our programming includes premieres of new work, second and third productions of new plays, and re-imaginings of modern classics. Our productions enjoy popular support, they receive serious and extended critical notice from national and international media, including NPR and The New York Times, and they are honored by the artistic community, with Wilma productions winning over 75 Barrymore awards since the award’s inception in 1995. We have built an audience around programming that encourages our audience’s engagement with the world, and we are capitalizing on this identity and experience to become a senior partner and artistic mentor for theater artists and companies in our community, developing projects that involve training, continuity, and risk and creating a community of artists centered on the Wilma as an artistic home.