Philadelphia’s Wilma Theater wins Tony Award

“This is a chemistry we’ve been working on for years and years and years and years,” Smiling said. “There is a tranquility. There is a greatness. “There is a danger and a vulnerability that culminates in the actors moving together in a very brave way.”

The next production to close Wilma’s season is the premiere of an opera work, “Hilma,” on June 4, about Klint’s early 20th-century mystical artist Hilma. Wilma’s third co-artistic director, Morgan Green, is directing and says it’s in line with the risk-taking Wilma is known for. Just two weeks before the opening, he’s still trying to figure it out.

“The risk factor is that we don’t fully know what we’re doing until we get it done,” Green said. “That’s difficult but exciting and full of potential. At Wilma we have to approach work with genuine curiosity and be open to discovering what she wants to become.”

Like movie theaters around the world, the Wilma is still suffering from pandemic closures. The audiences do not come like before and the budgets are not what they were. Urnov hopes the high-profile award will prompt some people to rediscover theater.

“I hope it serves as an invitation, as an additional reason to come,” he said. “It’s harder after COVID to get off the couch and go anywhere, specifically a theater doing risky work.”

Wilma is applying her collective structure to theater more broadly, supporting other Philadelphia theater companies and collaborating with far-flung companies, such as the Woolly Theater in DC, for which she has won awards.

“We’re representative of Philadelphia, but there are also theaters like the Wilma all over the country,” Godenberg said. “We really want people who are interested in seeing what happens on that stage to go to their hometown theaters. That is what we need”.