News: Wilma Theater website reports death of Jiri Zizka

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Jiri Zizka

By Howard Shapiro

The Wilma Theater posted a banner across its website late Wednesday to announce that Jiri Zizka — a cofounder of the modern Wilma on Broad Street and a major force in Philadelphia’s evolution as a vibrant city for live theater — had died.

No details were posted and no one was reachable at the theater after 10:30 p.m., when word of the posting began to spread. Zizka, with his wife, Blanka Zizka, came from Czechoslovakia and formed a relationship with the theater company they would take over and move into new directions. Blanka Zizka continues to lead the company, among the city’s largest, which is currently presenting the play Body Awareness.

The banner on the Wilma Theatre’s website read, simply, “Remembering Jiri Zizka, 1953-2012,” and included a picture of a smiling Zizka in a signature baseball cap. There was no accompanying report.

Zizka was born in Prague and became co-artistic director of the Wilma in 1981. He directed more than 70 productions, and in 2010 moved into a consulting relationship with the theater in order to pursue other artistic endeavors, according to biographical material on the site. 


Contact staff writer Howard Shapiro at 215-854-5727 or

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