Rolling Out a Big New Idea…

Or we could alternately call this entry “Working In A Tradition,” just as actor Peter Birkenhead did yesterday as both he and Danton Stone attended our afternoon Theater J Council Meeting where we unveiled our intentions for creating an On-Line History of Theater J to coincide with the ten year anniversary of our production of WAITING FOR LEFTY/STILL WAITING, my first show as artistic director of, as we were calling ourselves back then, “The New Theater J.”

Why did we call ourselves that?

You’ll have to read about it.

We’ll go public with the on-line site in February, 2008 as students in my Political Theater course are right now working with our staff to cull through many years’ worth of press releases, programs, scripts, clippings, interviews and reviews as well as conducting new interviews with key artists, supporters and DCJCC staff to create our own companion to two very influential theater memoirs. We’ll be taking direct inspirations, as so many theater generations do, from Harold Clurman’s seminal memoir, “The Fervent Years,” as well as a less well known but equally evocative assemblage of essays, “The Arena Adventure: The First 40 Years” published by Arena Stage and chock full of essays and reflections together with a year by year archiving and chronicle of the theater’s first four decades. We have something of a synthesis between the two in mind and a new site to show off. But that will all come a month into the new year.

At yesterday’s Council meeting (agenda to follow), Peter shared with us this bit of enthusiasm; that he was proud to be working, for the first time in his career, at a Jewish theater because it made him realize that so much of what he’d been doing as a theater artist all these years was working on top of the foundations laid by the Jewish pioneers of the American theater; that he, like all of us, was working within a hallowed tradition, on the shoulders of giants like Lou Adler, progenitors of the Yiddish theater in America, artists who set the stage for what would become the American style of acting; the American habit of theater going; the American propensity for candor and emotionalism as expressed in the performing arts; so much of that comes from Our People.

We play in their field. We will be continuing to write their history; a history that involves us.

Stay tuned for much more.

And here’s a look at what we discussed at our Council Meeting.

THEATER J COUNCIL AGENDA
October 31, 2007
12:15-1:45 pm

1) WELCOME ( Evelyn – 12:15)

2) GUEST ARTISTS (Ari, Danton Stone, Peter Birkenhead – 12:20)

3) INTRODUCTION OF NEW COUNCIL MEMBER PATTI SOLWASKY (Patty Abramson – 12:30)

4) REPORT ON SPEED-THE-PLOW & SUBSCRIPTIONS (Ari, Patricia, Simone, Hannah, Rebecca, Ann Gilbert – 12:32)
Staff reports on ticket sales, group sales, programming, cultivation and marketing

5) FINANCIAL OVERVIEW (Ari, Patricia, Hannah, Ira Hillman – 12:45)
Meeting with Budget Comte
Report on current budget

6) FUNDRAISING (Ari, Catherine and Patricia – 12:55)
Status of Show Sponsors and Producing Angels Campaign
Status of grants and foundation support

7) STATUS OF PROGRESS FROM BREAKOUT MEETINGS FOR SHEMIEL THE FIRST AND 25 QUESTIONS ( Ari, Hannah, Rebecca, Simone) (1:10)
Reports from Staff

8] STRAGETIC PLANNING COMTE REPORT (Paul Mason) (1:20)

9) BENEFIT COMMITTEE REPORT (Lois Fingerhut, Ellen Malasky) (1:25)

10) MORRIS LOUIS EXHIBITION EVENT AT THE HIRSCHHORN (Joan Wessel) (1:30)

11) ARTISTIC VISION FOR THE FUTURE (Ari) (1:32)
Next incubator presentation
Other New Play Development News
Formation of Reading Group to discuss new plays for next season consideration

12) TID-BIT FOR OUR EARS ONLY – “In These Fervid Years” (Ari) (1:42)