Philadelphia’s Wilma Theater announces new globe arena with individual audience boxes

Courtesy of Bryan Buttler Media Relations, LLC

Like many theaters around the country and across the world, The Wilma Theater in Philadelphia has put considerable thought into how they can bring their next season (beginning in late 2020 or early 2021) to audience members, all while ensuring that the health and safety of both patrons and artists remain a top priority.  After consulting with a number of artists, designers, and directors, the company is pleased to share their plans for an innovative Wilma Globe model.  Based on a number of historical models, including Shakespeare’s Globe, the Wilma Globe is the result of planning and problem-solving to keep the Wilma moving forward.

“From the very first day of this pandemic, we all agreed to take this crisis as a challenge, an opportunity to rethink and to reinvent,” said Lead Artistic Director Yury Urnov.  “Flexibility and Innovation are the two central principles guiding us. These principles have led us to a plan for next season, of which we are very proud. We began by asking ourselves a question: how can we stay close, yet apart? In response to this challenge, we came up with the Wilma Globe.”

The Wilma Globe is an arena, surrounded by two levels of audiences-boxes, each separated from one another by wooden dividers, but open to the stage. Depending on the specific needs of the show, it can be reconfigured into a semi-circle, horseshoe, and more. This Globe can fit as little as 35 and up to 100 people, and will provide a higher level of safety and comfort to our audiences, once we are permitted to gather again. Set Designers Misha Kachman, Sara Brown, and Matt Saunders helped design the arena, with important input from Video Designer Jorge Cousineau.

Additionally, the Wilma hopes to approach video streaming not merely as a technical solution but as an opportunity for artistic invention. They intend to discreetly install about a dozen cameras inside the Wilma Globe, uniquely placed for each production. Some of these would take care of “the big picture,” while others could be as small and specific as a camera hidden on an actor’s costume. As the director is rehearsing the show, the Wilma hopes to engage a video designer who would create a “video-script” of the production, so the company can stream a high quality, artistically planned version of the play. This way The Wilma can open their productions to a much broader circle of potential audiences.

“Many important details are still being worked on, ensuring the audience and artists’ comfort and safety, from bathrooms to concessions to entering and leaving the space,” added Leigh Goldenberg, Managing Director.  “I am confident that we will find solutions as thoughtful and innovative to each potential concern to match our current planning. We believe this ‘hybrid’ version – a mix of in-person and streaming – will provide us with a much higher level of flexibility and preparedness to the new challenges next season will bring.”

The company’s previously announced 2020-21 season includes Will Arbery’s HEROES OF THE FOURTH TURNING, the New Saloon’s MINOR CHARACTER, the world premiere of James Ijames’ FAT HAM, and Jackie Sibblies Drury’s FAIRVIEW. For more information on the season and the Wilma Globe, visit wilmatheatre.org.

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