RENAISSANCE IN THE BELLY OF A KILLER WHALE Extends Through March 7 At The Wilma Theater
Three women joyfully tell the story of their hometown of Harlem in Renaissance in the Belly of the Killer Whale, on stage at the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia beginning Wednesday, Feb. 26. The show has already been extended due to popular demand and will now close on Saturday, March 7.
Blending spoken-word poetry, theatre, song, dance, and comedy, Renaissance in the Belly of a Killer Whale is co-written by and starring Jaylene Clark Owens, Hollis Heath, and Janelle Heatley. It is directed by Owens and also co-written by Chyann Sapp.
"Although Killer Whale is a personal love letter to Harlem, so many people who are not from Harlem have said they can relate to it because it reminds them of their neighborhood, their sense of community, their childhood memories," said Owens, a member of the Wilma HotHouse acting company and this year's winner of the F. Otto Haas Barrymore Award for an Emerging Philadelphia Theatre Artist.
The show originated after Owens posted on Facebook about the burgeoning gentrification of Harlem in 2010. "Harlem is looking more and more like the belly of a killer whale," she wrote. A former teacher encouraged her to expand the post into a spoken word play.
Renaissance in the Belly of a Killer Whale has since received dozens of presentations, most recently a successful limited engagement at Theater Horizon. "I love how these three women bring their humor, energy, and sarcasm into a very serious subject that every city, particularly Philadelphia, is grappling with," Wilma Theater Artistic Director Blanka Zizka.
In addition to the public performances, the Wilma will host four student matinees of Renaissance in the Belly of a Killer Whale, reaching hundreds of students at Philadelphia public high schools. Many of these students will go on to create their own original works in response to the show through Wilmagination, the Wilma's school residency program.
"I moved to Philadelphia for the first time in 2010. I remember dropping off my headshot and resume at The Wilma," Owens said. "I was fresh out of college and I knew I wanted to work at this theater one day. Ten years later, it feels like a wonderful full circle moment to see Killer Whale at the Wilma. I can't wait to share this show, and this cast, with Philly!"
Full price tickets from $35-52, with discounts available for Seniors, Young Friends, Students, and Theater Industry Professionals. Tickets are available at the Wilma's Box Office by visiting wilmatheater.org, calling 215-546-7824, or coming to the theater.