There, Rosa Barba, Blanka Zizka, HotHouse
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There: In the Light and the Darkness of the Self and the Other

Blanka Zizka and Rosa Barba with the Wilma HotHouse

Based on There: In the Light and the Darkness of the Self and the Other by Etel Adnan

World Premiere!

Part of the 2019 Fringe Festival. Presented in partnership with The Wilma Theater.


Wilma Theater
265 South Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19107, PA United States
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DescriptionAbout the Artists

September 11–22, 2019

Where are we? where? There is a where, because we are, stubbornly, and have been, and who are we, if not you and me?

Wilma HotHouse Company adapts a book-length meditation on conflict and identity by Lebanese American poet Etel Adnan. Visual art pioneer Rosa Barba and Wilma’s innovative artistic director Blanka Zizka collaborate to bring their shared love of this seminal work of contemporary poetry to the stage.

Adnan’s text plays with the idea of self and other, with the multitudinous voices within us, with the amorphous boundaries between the oppositional concepts we use to define our worlds: you/me, man/woman, lover/enemy, citizen/foreigner. Mining English phrases for the essential thoughts from which language was born, the poem makes an ideal vehicle for Wilma’s innovative HotHouse Company, a diverse group of highly trained Philadelphia actors who use full-body expressions to go beneath the surface meanings of a text to its emotional core.

Barba’s set reconfigures The Wilma’s proscenium space, stretching over the usual seating plan and serving as both a stage and a projection surface, recasting the audience as an active observer-participant in Adnan’s self-discovery. And as Wilma HotHouse’s interpretation reveals, when we seek to discover ourselves—a search which is inherently also a consideration of other people—what we are really embarking upon is a quest for love.

Who are we, if not you and me?

“I threw my memories out the window and they came back, alien, beggars and witches, leaving me standing like a sword. Is that why the sun is so bleak when it looks at us, and why is there so much love under the heat and the truth?” Etel Adnan, There: In the Light and the Darkness of the Self and the Other

There pursues questions that are at once ancient and modern, united in their urgency and difficulty … [it] asks that we turn with renewed attention to some of the most important matters before us.” Robert Kaufman, Stanford University

$35 general (preview Sept 11)
$48 general (weekday)
$52 general (weekend)
$15 students/25-and-under
$2 FringeACCESS
Member discounts available
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60 minutes

Support for There: In the Light and the Darkness of the Self and the Other has been provided to The Wilma Theater by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.



About Etel Adnan

Adnan was born in 1925 and raised in Beirut, Lebanon. She studied philosophy at the Sorbonne, Paris. In January 1955 she went to the United States to pursue postgraduate studies in philosophy at U.C. Berkeley, and Harvard. From 1958 to 1972, she taught philosophy at Dominican College of San Rafael, California. In 1972, she moved back to Beirut and worked as cultural editor for two daily newspapers—first for Al Safa, then for L’Orient le Jour. She stayed in Lebanon until 1976. In 1977, her novel Sitt Marie-Rose was published in Paris, and won the France-Pays Arabes award. In the late seventies, she wrote texts for two documentaries made by Jocelyne Saab, on the civil war in Lebanon, which were shown on French television as well as in Europe and Japan.

About Blanka Zizka

Blanka Zizka has been artistic director of The Wilma Theater since 1981. In January 2016, The Vilcek Foundation announced Zizka as recipient of the Vilcek Prize, which is awarded annually to immigrants who have made lasting contributions to American society through their extraordinary achievements in biomedical research and the arts and humanities. She received the Zelda Fichandler Award from the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation in 2011, and was a Fellow at the 2015 Sundance Institute/LUMA Foundation Theatre Directors Retreat. For the past six years, she has been developing practices and programs for local theater artists to create working conditions that support creativity through continuity and experimentation.

At the Wilma, she has directed over 70 plays and musicals. Most recently, Blanka directed Romeo and Juliet, the World Premiere of Christopher Chen’s Passage, her own play Adapt!, Andrew Bovell’s When The Rain Stops Falling, Tom Stoppard’s U.S. premiere of The Hard Problem, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, Hamlet, Paula Vogel’s world premiere Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq, Richard Bean’s Under the Whaleback, Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, Tadeusz Słobodzianek’s Our Class, Sarah Ruhl’s In the Next Room, and Macbeth. 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 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 Kát’a Kabanová by Leoš Janácek. 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.

About Rosa Barba

Rosa Barba was born in 1972, in Sicily, Italy and now lives and works in Berlin. She has had solo exhibitions at Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt; MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge MA; MAXXI, Rome; and the Tate Modern, London. In addition her work has been included in numerous group exhibitions including MASS MoCA, Massachusetts; Akademie der Künste, Berlin and La Cinémathèque Française, Paris. She has participated in the 8th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art; 19th Biennale of Sydney; 2010 Liverpool Biennial and the 52nd and 53rd Venice Biennale. Subconscious Society, a Feature was awarded the 2016 International Prize for Contemporary Art, Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco. Find out more at