The Wilma Theater to Close 2014-15 Season with ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD

In Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, which will mark the Wilma's 11th production of a work by Tom Stoppard, minor characters take center stage as they journey on a boat taking Prince Hamlet to England with players from the royal court. As these characters unknowingly sail to a fate Shakespeare has already scripted for them, arguments of free will and determinism abound, all set to the constant travel game of flipping coins. In this battle of wits, Stoppard's characteristic wordplay and case of mistaken identities create a spectacle that's philosophical, clownish, and complete with a pirate-ambush.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead begins on Wednesday, May 20, 2015; opens on Wednesday, May 27, 2015; and closes on Sunday, June 14, 2015.

Critics and members of the press are invited to attend Press Night on Wednesday, May 27, at 7:30pm. For ticket arrangements, contact Sara Madden at or 215.893.9456 x102.

When Artistic Director Blanka Zizka decided to program and direct Hamlet, the natural decision was to follow it with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and hire the same company of actors to perform in both plays. The three lead actors, Keith J. Conallen, Jered McLenigan, and Ed Swidey, in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead engaged in a two-week rehearsal exploration prior to rehearsals for Hamlet. Following the opening of Hamlet the company returned to rehearsals to fully prepare Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead allowing each rehearsal process to inform the other.

With Zizka's 2011 production of Our Class, she first explored the idea of creating a company of actors and offering professional training opportunities to better prepare them for the physical, vocal, and emotional demands of scripts selected for Wilma production. The Wilma now prepares to formalize the notion of a resident company through the development of the Wilma Hothouse, a new program designed to incubate the talents of local performers and develop new works of theater. According to Zizka, "Our production of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is a major step in this direction, moving beyond standard assembly-line models of producing regional theater and towards a new ensemble-based approach to creating living, adventurous art."

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead has a long history, first premiering at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1966 by the Oxford Theatre Group. It debuted in London with a National Theatre production in 1967. It also debuted on Broadway in 1967 and was nominated for eight Tony Awards, and won four: Best Play, Scenic and Costume Design, and Producer. The play also won Best Play from the New York Drama Critics Circle in 1968, and Outstanding Production from the Outer Critics Circle in 1969.

Tom Stoppard wrote his first play, Enter A Free Man, while working as a journalist in Bristol. He was introduced to American audiences in 1967 with the Broadway hit Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, which was followed by Jumpers, Travesties, Dirty Linen, Newfoundland, Night and Day, The Real Thing, Artist Descending A Staircase, The Real Inspector Hound, Arcadia, The Invention of Love, The Coast of Utopia, Rock 'n' Roll, and his newest play The Hard Problem which will be produced at the Wilma in 2016. His off-Broadway productions include Enter A Free Man and the double bill of Dogg's Hamlet and Cahoot's Macbeth. For television, Stoppard's work includes the highly-acclaimed adaptation of the 1889 British novel by Jerome K. Jerome called Three Men in a Boat, seen on American public television in 1979. Professional Foul, a play he wrote for television, has won awards from BAFTA and the Broadcasting Press Guild. Most recently he won awards for Best Screenplay from Biarritz International Festival of Audiovisual Programming and the Writer's Award from the Broadcasting Press Guild for his work on the five-part BBC/HBO/VRT television miniseries Parade's End. His radio plays include If You're Glad I'll Be Frank, Albert's Bridge (Italia Prize Winner), 'M' Is for Moon Among Other Things, The Dissolution of Dominic Boot, Artist Descending a Staircase, and Darkside. Tom Stoppard has written screenplays for the films Despair, The Romantic Englishwoman, The Human Factor, Brazil, Empire of the Sun, The Russia House, Billy Bathgate, Tulip Fever, The Golden Compass, he is co-screenwriter of Shakespeare in Love for which he received an Academy Award, and most recently he wrote the screenplay for Anna Karenina. He directed and wrote the screenplay for the film version of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. The Wilma Theater productions of Stoppard's plays include Arcadia, Travesties, On The Razzle, The Invention of Love, The Real Inspector Hound, Indian Ink, Night and Day, Every Good Boy Deserves Favor, Rock 'n' Roll, The Real Thing, and now Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.

Blanka Zizka has been Founding Artistic Director of The Wilma Theater since 1981. In the fall of 2011, Blanka received the Zelda Fichandler Award from the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation, which recognizes an outstanding director or choreographer transforming the regional arts landscape. For the past three years, she has been developing practices and programs for local theater artists to create working conditions that support creativity through continuity and experimentation. She has organized nine compensated advanced training workshops for dozens of Philadelphia artists with the goal of creating an ensemble of actors surrounding the Wilma. Most recently, Blanka directed Paula Vogel's World Premiere Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq, Richard Bean's Under the Whaleback, Tony Kushner's Angels in America, Tadeusz S?obodzianek's Our Class, Sarah Ruhl's In the Next Room, and Macbeth, which included an original score by Czech composer and percussionist Pavel Fajt. Blanka has directed over 60 plays and musicals at the Wilma. Her recent favorite productions are Wajdi Mouawad's Scorched, Tom Stoppard's The Invention of Love and Rock 'n' Roll, Sarah Ruhl's Eurydice (which featured an original score by composer Toby Twining, now available from Cantaloupe Records), Brecht's The Life of Galileo, Athol Fugard's Coming Home and My Children! My Africa!, and Caryl Churchill's Cloud 9. She collaborated closely with Dael Orlandersmith on her plays Raw Boys and Yellowman, which was co-produced by McCarter Theatre and the Wilma and also performed at ACT Seattle, Long Wharf, and Manhattan Theatre Club. Blanka was also privileged to direct Rosemary Harris and John Cullum in Ariel Dorfman's The Other Side at MTC. For the Academy of Vocal Arts, she directed the opera Kat'a Kabanova by Leoš Janacek. She has collaborated with many playwrights including Paula Vogel, Richard Bean, Yussef El Guindi, Doug Wright, Sarah Ruhl, Tom Stoppard, Linda Griffiths, Polly Pen, Dael Orlandersmith, Laurence Klavan, Lillian Groag, Jason Sherman, Amy Freed, Robert Sherwood, and Chay Yew.

The all local cast features Krista Apple-Hodge (The Life of Galileo; Leaving; Macbeth; Our Class; In The Next Room, or the vibrator play; Rapture, Blister, Burn; Hamlet) as Gertrude; Ross Beschler (Our Class, Under the Whaleback, Bootycandy, Hamlet) as Horatio and Player; Keith J. Conallen (Curse of the Starving Class, Under the Whaleback, Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq, Hamlet) as Rosencrantz; Sarah Gliko (Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq, Hamlet) as Ophelia, Fortinbras, and Player; Joe Guzmán (Arcadia, The Ruling Class, On the Razzle, The Psychic Life of Savages, Hamlet) as Polonius; Adam Kerbel as Alfred; Jered McLenigan (Pillowman, Amadeus, Rock 'n' Roll, Hamlet) as Guildenstern; Brian Ratcliffe (Under the Whaleback, Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq, The Real Thing, Hamlet) as Hamlet and Player; Steven Rishard (Big Love, Hamlet) as Claudius; Lindsay Smiling (Resurrection Blues, Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train, Macbeth, Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq, Hamlet) as Player; Ed Swidey (Macbeth, Our Class, Curse of the Starving Class, Under the Whaleback, Hamlet) as First Player.

The artistic team includes Set Designer Matt Saunders (My Children! My Africa!, Age of Arousal, Rock 'n' Roll, Angels in America, Under the Whaleback, Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq, Hamlet), Costume Designer Vasilija Zivanic (Leaving, Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq, Hamlet), Lighting Designer Yi Zhao (Hamlet), Original Music and Sound Designers Alex Games (Hamlet) and Emma Violet (Hamlet), Sound Designer Zachary Beattie-Brown (Hamlet), Lead Street Artist CERA (Hamlet), and Fight Choreographer Ian Rose (Hamlet).

Special Events and Opportunities

Beer Tasting pre-show reception with Naked Brewing Company
Friday, May 22, 7pm
Join us for a pre-show beer tasting in our lobby from 7 to 8pm with Naked Brewing Company-complimentary for ticket-holders to that evening's performance!

Directors Gathering Dialogue
Tuesday, May 26
Immediately following the performance, a member of the Directors Gathering will join Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead director and Wilma's Founding Artistic Director Blanka Zizka for an audience-led conversation to discuss her work with the play and the behind-the-scenes process of making Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.

Post-Show Chats
Thursday, May 28 and Thursday, June 4
Learn more about the production through discussions with artists and audience members following the performance.

Young Friends pre-show reception
Friday, June 5, 7pm
For audience members 40 and under, this performance includes a complimentary pre-show food and drink reception at the Wilma from 7 to 8pm!

Coffee Chat
Wednesday, June 10, 5pm
Learn more about the production through discussions with artists and audience members following the performance; complimentary coffee included!

Open Captioning

Saturday, June 13, 2pm


Under our new Wilma WynTix initiative all tickets, including subscription tickets, for all days and times throughout the full four-week mainstage run will be enjoyed by the general public at the subsidized rate of $25 or $10 for students and theater artists. Tickets are available at the Wilma's Box Office by calling 215.546.7824, visiting, or coming to the theater, located at 265 South Broad Street in Philadelphia.

The Sporting Club at the Bellevue and the Standing O Bar/Bistro are Season Sponsors.

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