Score another win for immigrants.
Blanka Zizka, the artistic director of the Wilma Theater (265 S. Broad St.) since 1981, has been named this year's winner of The Vilcek Prize in the Arts.
An early champion of Czech-born British playwright Tom Stoppard (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Arcadia, "Shakespeare in Love"), the Wilma premiered Stoppard's The Invention of Love. Zizka also was a strong supporter of playwright/Czech president Vaclav Havel. She has grown the Wilma from a small volunteer operation to a company with its own building and auditorium on the Avenue of the Arts.
The Vilcek Prizes recognize outstanding immigrant accomplishments in the fields of theater and bio-medical science. The winner of the bio-medical prize was Dan R. Littman, born in Romania, for his work understanding the immune system. Each winner receives $100,000.
Previous winners of the Vilcek prize in the Arts include Mikhail Baryshnikov, Yo-Yo Ma and Mike Nichols.
The Vilcek Foundation was started in 2000 by Czech immigrants Jan and Marica Vilcek. Jan Vilcek was one of the discoverers of Remicade, a drug used to fight tumors and auto-immune diseases.