Theater J

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Theater J
TheaterJ logo.gif
TypeTheatre group
PurposeJewish Culture Theater
Artistic director(s)
Adam Immerwahr, (2015–)
Shirley Serotsky, Associate Artistic Director
Notable members
Martin Blank, Founding Artistic Director (1990–1993),
Ari Roth, Artistic Director (1997–2014),
Rebecca Ende, Managing Director

Theater J is a professional theater company located in Washington, DC, founded to present works that "celebrate the distinctive urban voice and social vision that are part of the Jewish cultural legacy" as a self-mission.[1]


Theater J is housed in the Washington, D.C. Jewish Community Center (DCJCC).

Hailed by The New York Times as “The Premier Theater for Premieres,”[citation needed] and recipient of 61 Helen Hayes nominations and awards,[citation needed] Theater J has emerged as one of the most distinctive, progressive and respected Jewish theaters on the national and international scene.[according to whom?] A program of the Washington DC Jewish Community Center, Theater J performs in the Aaron & Cecile Goldman Theater, part of the Washington, D.C. Jewish Community Center's Morris Cafritz Center for the Arts in D.C.'s Dupont Circle neighborhood. Founding Artistic Director is Martin Blank (1990-1993).[2] In December 2014, Ari Roth, Theater J's artistic director of 18 years, was fired after a series of widely publicized disagreements between Roth and his superior, the executive director of the Washington DCJCC.[3] Between January 2014-November 2015 Shirley Serotsky (who previously served as Associate Artistic Director) served as Theater J's Acting Artistic Director. Adam Immerwahr will serve as Theater J's new Artistic Director, beginning December 2015.[4]

Performing in the 240-seat Aaron & Cecile Goldman Theater in the vibrant Dupont Circle neighborhood, Theater J works with some of the world’s most distinguished authors for the stage. It has produced world premieres by Thomas Keneally, Robert Brustein, Wendy Wasserstein, Joyce Carol Oates and Ariel Dorfman, with many debuts from emerging writers like Anna Ziegler, Sam Forman and Renee Calarco. Theater J’s diverse body of work also includes the ongoing initiative: Locally Grown: Community Supported Art Festival, which supports the development of new plays by local playwrights. It has been called out by The Washington Post as “simply one of the most important and worthwhile projects that any local theater has adopted." With hit productions including Talley’s Folly, The Disputation, Honey Brown Eyes, The Chosen (a Theater J production presented by Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater), New Jerusalem, After the Fall, Our Class, Race and Freud's Last Session, it's no surprise that The Washington Post proclaims that “Theater J propels itself to a new level of engagement with its audience, and, perhaps, to the forefront of theaters exposing Americans to drama that stirs the conscience as it illuminates aspects of Jewish culture.”

Winner of the 2008 Mayor’s Arts Award for Excellence in an Artistic Discipline, Theater J also offers much more than just productions through Beyond the Stage, which includes readings; a wide array of post-show programming such as panel discussions, cast talkbacks, and our Passports Program which brings theater to area students and underserved adult populations.


Theater J Logo.jpeg

Since its establishment in 1990, Theater J has made new play development a critical pillar of its work. With over 40 world premiere productions, English language premieres, and second productions of newly revised plays, Theater J has made new work a key strategy for creating art that speaks to Jewish values and to the issues and concerns of the Washington D.C. community. In addition to producing new plays, each season Theater J conducts workshops and staged readings of plays in development in order to support playwrights in the creation of new plays.

Theater J is proud of its rich working relationships with playwrights of distinction who treasure the highly professional, intimate, and supportive environment. Notable writers who have had new work premiered at Theater J include Robert Brustein (Spring Forward/Fall Back, 2006), Richard Greenberg (Bal Masque, 2006), Ariel Dorfman (Picasso’s Closet, 2006), Joyce Carol Oates (The Tattooed Girl, 2007), Mark Medoff (Tommy J and Sally, 2002), Wendy Wasserstein (Third and Welcome to my Rash) and Thomas Keneally (Either Or, 2007).

Shows developed at Theater J often go on to receive follow-up productions across the country and artists with whom we have worked go on to make an impact on the theatrical world long after they leave DC.

For example, Stefanie Zadravec’s Honey Brown Eyes, the 2009 Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play, was published in American Theatre Magazine. It has gone on to productions at The Working Theatre Off-Broadway and in smaller venues throughout the country. Theodore Bikel’s Sholom Aleichem: Laughter Through Tears, a one-man, three-musician musical which premiered at Theater J in 2008, went on to a successful run at the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene at Baruch Performing Arts Center in NY where Bikel was nominated for a 2010 Drama Desk Award for Solo Performance by an Actor. Subsequently, it has been produced in Los Angeles, Toronto, and toured throughout Eastern Europe.

Most recently, Theater J’s Locally Grown: Community Supported Art Festival, a new play development initiative that commissions and then produces plays by local playwrights has been called “quite simply one of the most important and worthwhile projects that any local theater has adopted, in the cause of making this a more hospitable city for playwriting talent” by The Washington Post.

Playwrights who have participated in Locally Grown have seen their plays move on to be named Semi-Finalists for the Eugene O’Neill Playwriting Conference, to Off-broadway productions, and readings or productions in Tennessee, Florida, Virginia and California.

Additionally, Theater J has a long history of working with Israeli playwrights to develop the English-language premieres of their work, working with Boaz Goan on the English-language premiere of Boged (Traitor): An Enemy of the People, Hillel Milepunkt’s The Accident, Hadar Galron's Mikveh, with multiple premieres over the years from Motti Lerner (Passing The Love of Women, Pangs of The Messiah, Benedictus, and the workshop presentation of The Admission).

Theater J also has a history of important second productions that bring plays to the attention of the theatrical world beyond their world-premieres, such as the production of Anna Ziegler’s Photograph 51, first produced by Active Cultures Theater in Maryland and which has now gone on to be produced by 10 different theaters.

Other second productions that included significant revisions include Jacquelyn Reingold’s String Fever in 2005, Kate Fodor’s Hannah and Martin in 2005, Jennifer Maisel’s The Last Seder in 2003, The Mad Dancers by Yehuda Hyman in 2003, co-directed by Liz Lerman, The Argument by Alexandra Gersten-Vassilaros, and the upcoming 2016 production of Another Way Home by Anna Ziegler.

Theater J has shown premieres by Richard Greenberg (Bal Masque), Ariel Dorfman (Picasso’s Closet), Joyce Carol Oates (The Tattooed Girl), Wendy Wasserstein (Third), Aaron Posner (Life Sucks), and Caleen Sinette Jennings (Queens Girl in the World).[5]

Critical response[edit]

Theater J has been described by The New York Times as offering "professional polish, thoughtful dramaturgy and nervy experimentation," [6] and by Hadassah Magazine as "one of the most successful and avant-garde" of contemporary American Jewish theaters.[7] The company is also known for its record of premiering new works. The New York Times called Theater J "The Premier Theater for Premieres." [6]


Theater J is a Blue Star Theatre, part of a collaboration between the Theatre Communications Group and Blue Star Families offering discounted admission to all military personnel, their families, and U.S. veterans.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Theater J: General Information". Washington DC Jewish Community Center. Archived from the original on June 14, 2008. Retrieved September 7, 2008.
  2. ^ "History of Theater J". Washington D.C. Jewish Cultural Center. Archived from the original on August 9, 2014.
  3. ^ Paulson, Michael (December 19, 2014). "Ari Roth, Director of Jewish Theater, Is Fired". The New York Times. Retrieved January 1, 2015.
  4. ^ "Theater J names new artistic director: Adam Immerwahr". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 19, 2015.
  5. ^ "Past Productions". Theater J.
  6. ^ a b Graham, Trey (May 15, 2005). "The Premier Theater for Premieres". The New York Times. Retrieved September 7, 2008.
  7. ^ Musleah, Rahel (October 2002). "The Many Stages of Jewish Life". Hadassah Magazine. Retrieved September 7, 2008.
  8. ^ "Blue Star Theatres". Theatre Communications Group. Archived from the original on September 28, 2012. Retrieved June 1, 2013.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 38°54′39.1″N 77°2′8.9″W / 38.910861°N 77.035806°W / 38.910861; -77.035806