The recent change in artistic leadership at Theater J has generated quite a bit of attention in the press, leaving many people wondering, “What will be next for Theater J?”
First and foremost, we are devoted to bringing the artistic aspirations of every show this season to life and are committed to all of the artists involved with each project. Theater is a very collaborative art form, and all nine of Theater J’s staff members were involved in the planning for the 2014-15 season. We remain passionate and dedicated to the art on our stage and the conversations surrounding it. Here is what you will see in the coming months.
We are currently deep into the rehearsal process for the world premiere of Life Sucks (Or the Present Ridiculous), a witty, irreverent and touching adaptation by Aaron Posner, loosely based on Chekov’s Uncle Vanya. To me, this production embodies much of what we stand for at Theater J – supporting new projects by local playwrights, finding stories that speak to the common experiences we all share and, above all, a commitment to artistic excellence.
We are also working closely with local playwright Renee Calarco to produce the world premiere of G-d’s Honest Truth, a script that was developed as part of Theater J’s Locally Grown Festival. This play was inspired by the true story of Rabbi Menachem Youlus, a Baltimore-based rabbi who was convicted of selling fraudulent Holocaust Torah scrolls. The production is an opportunity to explore and talk about how a community – the Jewish community or any other – responds to, protects itself during and heals from scandal.
In May, Theater J will be at The Atlas Performing Arts Center, a vibrant multidisciplinary venue in the H Street Corridor.
Our production of Tanya Barfield’s The Call grapples with identity through a couple’s decision to adopt a child from Africa. Theater J’s residency at Atlas for this production is a continuation of our multiyear conversation on race.
The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife closes the season, as part of a national celebration of 30 years of the work of Charles Busch, a nationally acclaimed playwright who brought drag performances to a mainstream audience.
As a Jewish theater, Theater J endeavors to expose our audiences to the distinctive voices and vision of the Jewish cultural legacy. We explore difficult and sometimes unanswerable questions as in the best of Jewish tradition. Our shows navigate questions of identity, the nature of historical narratives, relevant political debates and family dynamics.
Changes in artistic leadership are always challenging for theaters. However, all theaters must go through transitions in order to sustain themselves. This winter we will begin a national search for a new artistic director. With a new artistic director comes the exciting opportunity for a fresh perspective and new artistic vision.
But there are things that will remain constant at Theater J. Theater J will always be dedicated to its core values: producing work that is relevant and thought-provoking, providing a nurturing home for playwrights and all of our artists, and diving deeper into the art we offer through our programs that happen Beyond the Stage.
Looking towards next year, we will create a 2015-2016 season that is just as thought-provoking, artful and broad in scope as Theater J has always been. Our past productions of David Henry Hwang’s Yellow Face and Winter Miller’s In Darfur are the bedrock of future seasons – expanding the possibilities of what it means to be Theater J. We will continue conversations we’ve already started about issues that we all grapple with – community, faith, legacy and race. And we will continue to present work about and from Israel. Planning for next year is already underway. Look for an announcement from us late this spring about the lineup for next season.
Rebecca Ende is Theater J’s managing director and Shirley Serotsky is the theater’s acting artistic director.