2011-2012 Season and Locally Grown Festival Press Releases Below:

2011–2012 Season

IMAGINING MADOFF
By Deb Margolin
August 31–September 25
Press Night: Tuesday, September 6 at 7:30

PARADE
A co-production with Ford’s Theatre
By Alfred Uhry & Jason Robert Brown
September 22–October 30
At Ford’s Theatre

AFTER THE FALL
By Arthur Miller
October 26–November 27
Press Night: Tuesday, November 1 at 7:30

THE RELIGION THING
By Renee Calarco
January 4–29
Press Night: Monday, January 9 at 7:30

THE KINSEY SICKS
TAKE (A)BACK AMERICA!

February 4–19
Press Night: Sunday, February 5 at 7:30

NEW JERUSALEM:
THE INTERROGATION OF BARUCH DE SPINOZA

by David Ives
February 29–April 1
Press Night: Sunday, March 4 at 7:30

THE WHIPPING MAN
By Matthew Lopez
April 18–May 20
Press Night: Monday, April 23 at 7:30

THE HISTORY OF INVULNERABILITY
By David Bar Katz
June 6–July 8
Press Night: Monday, June 11 at 7:30

THEATER J ANNOUNCES ITS 2011-2012 SEASON:
“BRILLIANT FICTIONS-SHATTERING FACTS.” 

EIGHT PRODUCTIONS GRAPPLING WITH HISTORY AND ITS LEGACY.

(Washington, DC) –Theater J announces its 2011-2012 season, “Brilliant Fictions, Shattering Facts,” a line-up of eight shows, including two world premieres and a new festival focused on cultivating work by local playwrights. Artistic Director Ari Roth notes, “Theater J is fascinated by real stories about real people and their imagined thoughts, dreams and close encounters.  The new season tells stories pulled from history that are deeply researched but given fresh voice for the purposes of clarifying, enlightening, and lifting up. We love that marriage of fact and flight-of-fancy; of tragedy that’s actually happened recast in ways that only the theater can frame.  This season we celebrate the music of memory; the lyricism of old pain freshly felt; the cutting edge visionary finding villains in history, and heroes too, creating new in-roads to touch us individually, and as a community.”

Riding high from a record-breaking year which saw its audience and revenues exceed expectations by twenty percent, Theater J builds on a breakout 2010-2011 Season in which Theater J won its third consecutive Helen Hayes Award, had a record-breaking forty-eight sold-out performances, and became the first  ever local Guest-Company-In-Residence at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater.  That spirit of collaboration continues with Theater J’s first ever co-production with Ford’s Theatre: the DC premier of the Tony-Award winning musical Parade. Last season witnessed a cross-continental collaboration  between Theater J and the Cameri Theatre of Tel Aviv in the Voices from a Changing Middle East festival. This season, Theater J launches a new festival focusing on talented artists closer to home with the first “Locally Grown: Community Supported Art/From Our Own Garden” festival, anchored by the world premiere of Renee Calarco’s The Religion  Thing.  Other highlights from the upcoming season include a national symposium surrounding the remount of New Jerusalem: The Interrogation of Baruch de Spinoza, Arthur Miller’s deeply personal After the Fall, a brand-new musical comedy commissioned by and starring The Kinsey Sicks,  and the DC premiers of Matthew Lopez’s Off-Broadway hit The Whipping Man and David Bar Katz’s Critically lauded The History of Invulnerability.

 Another exciting element of the 2011–2012 Season is the residency of Jennifer Mendenhall as Theater J’s third Associate Artist.  Ms. Mendenhall last appeared at Theater J in the 2011 Voices from a Changing Middle East Festival, performing in staged readings of A Railway to Damascus, I’m Speaking to you Chinese and The Admission. Other recent appearances include Hillel Mitelpunkt’s The Accident, the 2002 production of Born Guilty and Peter and the Wolf by Ari Roth, and her 2003 performance as Mahala in the Theater J/Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company co-production of Tony Kushner’s Homebody/Kabul. One of the most beloved actresses in Washington DC, she has been a company member at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company since 1988. At Woolly Mammoth, she has acted in over a dozen plays, most recently appearing in Clybourne Park for which she received a Helen Hayes nomination.  She has also appeared in the DC area at Arena Stage, Metro Stage, Shakespeare Theatre Company, The Studio Theatre, Forum Theatre and Theatre Alliance.  Ms. Mendenhall is a recipient of the Helen Hayes Award, for which she has been nominated thirteen times, The Washington Theatre Lobby Award, and a grant from the Boomerang Fund for Artists.  Her most recent projects include The New Electric Ballroom and Circle Mirror Transformation at The Studio Theatre.  In her residency at Theater J, she will appear in Imagining Madoff and After the Fall, and continue developing work in preparation for the 2012-2013 Voices From a Changing Middle East festival.

Theater J’s 2011-2012 Season is as follows:

August 31-September 25, 2011
IMAGINING MADOFF
By Deb Margolin
Directed by Alexandra Aron
Featuring Rick Foucheux, Jennifer Mendenhall
and Mike Nussbaum
Press Night: Tuesday, September 6 at 7:30

 “Whip-smart.. profound…a great work of theater”- Tablet.com

The much anticipated premiere by OBIE Award winner, Deb Margolin. Unrepentant Ponzi-schemer Bernard Madoff sets the record straight from his prison cell, recounting an all-night study session with Holocaust survivor, poet and investment client, Solomon Galkin. With testimony from Madoff’s personal secretary before the Securities and Exchange Commission, we delve into the minds of two towering men, as their mutual will to confide and confess accelerates through the night.

Deb Margolin is a playwright, performance artist and founding member of Split Britches Theater Company. She is the author of nine full-length solo performance pieces which have toured throughout the US, and numerous plays, including Three Seconds in the Key, Time is the Mercy of Eternity and Bringing the Fishermen Home. Deb is the recipient of a 1999-2000 OBIE Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance, the 2005 Kesselring Playwriting Award for Three Seconds in the Key, and the 2008 Helen Merrill Distinguished Playwright Award. In May of 2007 she traveled on a Fulbright Senior Specialist grant to University of Tel Aviv to present her play Critical Mass, in a Hebrew translation. Deb has enjoyed commissions from the Jewish Museum of New York, the Joseph Papp Public Theater, the Actor’s Theater of Louisville and more.  She is currently an Associate Professor in Yale University’s undergraduate Theater Studies Program.

Alexandra Aron is a New York-based director who collaborated with Ms. Margolin on the New George’s production of  Three Seconds in the Key. Other productions include A Night in the Old Marketplace with music by Frank London and book and lyrics by Glen Berger, Great Men of Science No.’s 21 & 22 by Glen Berger, Out From Under It by Susan Bernfield at the Vital Theater, Karaoke at the Suicide Shack by Rob Urbinati at the Queens Theater in the Park and Eloise and Ray by Stephanie Fleishmann at New Georges.

Rick Foucheux, last season’s Guest Artist-In-Residence, returns to Theater J to play the eponymous scoundrel. In his residency last season, Mr. Foucheux graced Theater J’s stage as Eugene Biddle in Something You Did, Oscar Madison in The Odd Couple, and Reb Saunders in The Chosen. He also appeared on the Theater J stage in the repertory production of Ari Roth’s Born Guilty and Peter and The Wolf, Lanford Wilson’s Talley’s Folley, for which he received a Helen Hayes Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor, and the Theater J/Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company collaboration of Tony Kushner’s Homebody/Kabul. Several other recent roles include Buckminster Fuller in Buckminster Fuller: The History (and Mystery) of The Universe and Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman at Arena Stage.  He has been nominated for ten Helen Hayes Awards, and is a two-time recipient of the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lead Actor. Mr. Foucheux is playing opposite Mike Nussbaum, portraying Solomon Galkin. Mr. Nussbaum has appeared in numerous David Mamet films including House of Games, and Things Change and a number of Mamet’s plays on and off Broadway, appearing in the original cast of American Buffalo. In 1997, he received the prestigious Chicago Jeff Award for his performance in David Hare’s Racing Demon. He received a Drama Desk Award in 1984 for his performance in Glengarry Glen Ross. In 2002, he directed Where Have You Gone, Jimmy Stewart, by Art Shay. Mr. Nussbaum has also appeared in a number of films including Field of Dreams and Men in Black. Mr. Nussbaum’s appearance will be made possible by the Fisher Family Visiting Artists Endowment. The acting triumvirate is completed with Theater J’s 2011–2012 Associate Artist-In-Residence Jennifer Mendenhall as Madoff’s guilt-ridden secretary.

September 22-October 30, 2011
A Special Co-production with Ford’s Theatre

PARADE
Book by Alfred Uhry
Music and Lyrics by Jason Robert Brown
Directed by Stephen Rayne
Featuring Tony Award-nominee Euan Morton as Leo Frank
With Carolyn Agan, Sandy Bainum, Christopher Bloch,
Erin Driscoll, Jenny Fellner,Will Gartshore, Matthew Kacergis, Kellee Knighten, James Konicek, Kevin McAllister,
Stephen F. Schmidt, Christopher Sizemore Christopher Talbert, Bligh Voth
and Lauren Williams
Performing at Ford’s Theatre

“A daring and ambitious musical”- The Independent, London

1999 Tony Award Winner for Best Book and Best Score

The Tony Award-winning musical drama Parade features the true story of Leo Frank’s trial and lynching in early 20th-century Atlanta. Ostracized for his faith and Northern heritage, Jewish factory manager Leo Frank is accused of murdering a teenaged factory girl the day of the annual Confederate Memorial Day parade. Alfred Uhry’s award-winning book and Jason Robert Brown’s rousing, colorful and haunting score illuminate a circus of conflicting accounts, false testimony and mishandled evidence in a town reeling with social and racial tension. Isolated from the world, Leo develops a new and deeper love for his wife, who tirelessly crusades for his freedom. Stephen Rayne (The Heavens Are Hung In Black, Sabrina Fair) directs this compelling and provocative tale of justice miscarried, revealing a country at odds with its declarations of equality. Tony Award-nominee Euan Morton stars as Leo Frank. Parade is a co-production with Theater J and is presented in association with the Anti-Defamation League and Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington.This provocatively political musical is part of the Lincoln Legacy Project, a five-year initiative to feature mainstage productions and community conversations addressing tolerance, understanding and civil rights.

Stephen Rayne returns to Ford’s Theatre after directing Sabrina Fair in 2010 and the world premiere production of The Heavens Are Hung In Black during the 2009 Reopening Season. Rayne’s directorial credits include the mambo-, jazz-, and bolero-infused Havana Rakatan (Cuba, London), productions of A View from the Bridge, A Christmas Carol, Hay Fever, Closer, Equus and House and Garden at the Alley Theatre, Macbeth for the New York Arts Festival and productions of Athol Fugard’s Blood Knot in St. Louis and Chicago. Additionally, Rayne has directed productions for London’s National Theatre (Peter Grimes, The Relapse, The Coast of Utopia), Hampstead Theatre and Royal Opera House, among others. Rayne is currently developing productions of Gone with the Wind (Korea) and Tango Eterno (Buenos Aires).

Alfred Uhry is distinguished as the only American playwright to have won a Pulitzer Prize, an Academy Award and two Tony Awards. His first major success was a musical adaptation of Eudora Welty’s The Robber Bridegroom, which opened at the Mark Taper Forum in 1976 and went on to Broadway, winning Mr. Uhry his first Tony nomination. His first play, Driving Miss Daisy won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. His next play, The Last Night of Ballyhoo won Uhry the Outer Critics Circle Award, the Drama League Award and the 1997 Tony Award for Best Play. Other works include Without Walls, Edgardo Mine, and the book for Lovemusik.

Jason Robert Brown is the author of the musicals Songs for a New World (1995), Parade (1998), The Last Five Years (2002), the winner of Drama Desk Awards for Best Music and Best Lyrics, and 13. Mr. Brown has also received the Kleban Award and the Gilman & Gonzalez-Falla Award. Mr. Brown’s conducting and arranging credits include Dinah Was, A New Brain, john and jen and Yoko Ono’s New York Rock. Jason is also the composer of the incidental music for David Lindsay-Abaire’s “Kimberly Akimbo” and “Fuddy Meers,” Marsha Norman’s “Last Dance,” Kenneth Lonergan’s “The Waverly Gallery,” and the Irish Repertory Theater’s production of “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.” He was a Tony Award nominee for his contributions to the score of “Urban Cowboy the Musical.”

Euan Morton starred in the Broadway version of Taboo and won a Theatre World Award for Outstanding Debut Performer on Broadway. He was nominated for 5 more awards, including the Tony Award. Recently, Euan received rave reviews for playing the title role of Tony Kushner’s adaptation of Brundibar at The New Victory Theatre, and won an Obie Award for starring in Measure For Pleasure at The Public Theatre. Jenny Fellner is best known to theatre audiences for her role as Nessarose in the Broadway production of Wicked. Other Broadway appearances include Mamma Mia! and Pal Joey.

 October 26-November 27, 2011
AFTER THE FALL
By Arthur Miller
Directed by Jose Carrasquillo
Featuring Mitchell Hébert, Jennifer Mendenhall,
Gabriela Fernández-Coffey, Kimberly Schraf, Tim Getman,
Stephen Patrick Martin, Joe Brack, Dana Levanovsky,
and Kerry Waters

Press Night: Tuesday, November 1 at 7:30

“Endlessly fascinating, emotionally harrowing, and consumingly committed to telling the truth as Miller sees it”- Time

Miller’s most personal play explores one man’s quest to make peace with history; his own and the tumultuous world around him. In the wake of the tragic death of his famous second wife Maggie, Quentin desperately tries to move forward in his life and pursue a relationship with Holga. Yet he is compelled to relive his childhood losses, failed marriages and the controversial policies of the 1950’s Blacklist which turned allies against each other and leaves Quentin, in the end, both noble hero and complicit bystander.  After The Fall mines a great deal from Miller’s personal life, particularly his own interrogation before the House Un-American Activities Committee, and his tumultuous romantic relationships.

With this exciting new production, Theater J continues its strong history with Arthur Miller, initiated in 1999 with Danger: Memory!  a collection of three of Miller’s one-act pieces. Theater J also produced a hit production of The Ride Down Mt. Morgan in 2001. In 2008, Theater J produced The Price, starring the all-star ensemble of Robert Prosky and his sons Andy and John.

Arthur Miller was one of the leading American playwrights of the twentieth century. In 1947, his drama All My Sons launched him into stardom, winning the New York Drama Critcs’ Circle Award as the best play of the year. His next play Death of a Salesman received both a Tony Award and the Pulitzer Prize. He followed that with the politically charged The Crucible, a scathing allegorical indictment of the House Un-American Activities Committee. Other seminal plays by Miller included A Memory of Two Mondays, A View from the Bridge, The Ride Down Mount Morgan, The Last Yankee, and the Olivier Award-winning Broken Glass.  In addition to his estimable artistic reputation, Miller also gained some notoriety for his personal life.  In 1956, he divorced his first wife and married actress Marilyn Monroe. The two were together for five years, and divorced one year before her tragic death. After divorcing Monroe, Miller married Austrian photographer Ingeborg Morath.

Jose Carrasquillo directed Clean by Edwin Sanchez at The Studio Theatre 2ndStage. Previously, Mr. Carrasquillo directed Steven Berkoff’s adaptation of Metamorphosis for Washington Shakespeare Company. Other DC credits include Roberto Ramos-Perea’s Mistiblu at Teatro de la Luna, the world premiere of Barbara McConagha’s The Obituary Bowl at The Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company and Chay Yew’s A Language of Their Own at The Studio Theatre 2ndStage. As a theatre artist, he has also worked at The District of Columbia Arts Center, Consenting Adults Theatre Company, and Arena Stage, where he served as the Intern and Allen Lee Hughes Fellows Program Coordinator. This fall, he is also directing Happy Days at the Washington Shakespeare Company.

Leading the ensemble as Quentin is Mitchell Hébert, who last appeared at Theater J as Pablo Picasso in Picasso’s Closet in 2006 and in Death and the Maiden in 2002. Mr. Hébert recently appeared in Signature Theatre’s Art and Round House Theatre’s Charming Billy. A frequent Round House performer, he has also appeared in their productions of Around the World in 80 Days, Eurydice, Crime and Punishment, The Drawer Boy (Helen Hayes Award nomination), Shakespeare, Moses and Joe Papp, Criminal Genius and Escape from Happiness. As a Company member at Woolly Mammoth Theatre, he has appeared in Clybourne Park, (Helen Hayes Award nomination), as well as The Clean House The Gigli Concert, Patience and  Kvetch. One of the foremost actors in DC, he is also a gifted director. His production of Rabbit Hole at The Olney Theatre Center, garnered a Helen Hayes nomination for Outstanding Ensemble and he will direct The Illusion at Forum Theatre in spring 2012.

 Theater J Artist-In-Residence Jennifer Mendenhall appears as Holga, Quentin’s spiritual savior.  Playing the other women of Quentin’s life are Gabriella Fernández-Coffey and Kimberly Schraf. Gabriella Fernández-Coffey will play Quentin’s troubled second wife, the sensual singer Maggie.  Ms. Fernández-Coffey was last seen in DC earning rave reviews in GALA Hispanic Theatre’s Divorcees, Evangelicals and Vegetarians and playing opposite Tim Getman in Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company’s production of Gruesome Playground Injuries. She also earned accolades for her Helen Hayes-Award nominated performance in Rorshach Theatre’s References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot. Playing Quentin’s tormented first wife Louise is Kimberly Schraf, who has appeared at Theater J in Mikveh, Hannah & Martin and Love and Yearning in the Not-For-Profits. She recently appeared in Ford’s Theatre’s production of The Carpetbagger’s Children. Tim Getman, playing Quentin’s trusted friend Dan, returns to Theater J after having performed in last season’s Photograph 51. He has also appeared in the Theater J productions Passing the Love of Women, The Last Seder and as Danny Saunders in Theater J’s original production of The Chosen. He recently appeared in Gruesome Playground Injuries at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, where he also appeared in The Unmentionables and The Distance from Here.  He is joined by Stephen Patrick Martin, playing Lou, a lawyer besieged by persecution by HUAC. Mr. Martin last appeared at Theater J as part of the 2011 Voices of a Changing Middle East Festival, and The Seagull on 16th Street. Other recent performing credits include Henry VIII and Hamlet at the Folger Theatre.

Rounding out the all-star ensemble are Dana Levanovsky, Kerry Waters and Joe Brack. Dana Levanovsky joins the cast as the young and admiring Felice.  Ms. Levanovsky recently appeared in Forum Theatre’s production of Scorched and The Studio Theatre 2ndStage’s That Face. She is joined by Kerry Waters, as Elsie, the wife of Quentin’s blacklisted friend Lou. Ms. Waters is a frequent player at the Keegan Theatre.  She recently appeared in Scena Theatre’s The Weir, and GALA Hispanic Theatre’s Beauty of the Father.  Completing  the ensemble is Joe Brack, familiar to DC audiences for his acclaimed performances in Washington Shakespeare Company’s Mary Stuart, and Constellation Theatre Company’s On the Razzle.

January 4-29, 2012
THE RELIGION THING
A World Premiere Comedy
By Renee Calarco
Directed by Joe Calarco
Featuring Colleen Delany, Will Gartshore, Kimberly Gilbert,
Patrick Smith and Chris Stezin

Press Night: Monday, January 9 at 7:30

“Bright and heartfelt”- The Washington Post, on Calarco’s Helen Hayes Award-winning play Short Order Stories.

Mo and Brian are a picture-perfect DC couple: they’re smart, they’re witty, and have a beautifully remodeled kitchen. But when Mo’s best friend Patti announces she’s found Jesus and is putting her own career on hold, Mo must take a closer look at the harder truths surrounding her own marriage. A brand new comedy about relationships, faith, ghosts in the closet and the fine line between compromise and regret.  This production anchors Theater J’s new initiative, “Locally Grown: Community Supported Art/New Plays from Our Own Garden” The Locally Grown festival will feature works from area writers at every stage of development, and incorporates three main components: the world premiere of THE RELIGION THING;  workshop presentations of THE PROSTATE DIALOGUES, a new solo performance piece by established artist Jon Spelman; and four readings of new works by local playwrights: The Hampton Years by Jacqueline Lawton, Cold November Light by Stephen Spotswood, Hot & Cold by Gwydion Suilebhan, and Married Sex by performance artist Laura Zam. More information on this new festival is available in a separate press release.

Renee Calarco is an up-and-coming DC playwright. Her play Short Order Stories received the 2007 Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play. Other plays include Keepers of the Western Door and a one-act play, The Mating of Angela Weiss. Her ten-minute plays include Warriors, The Seven Habits of Highly Defective People and Heavy Mettle. Renee is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America.

The playwright collaborates with nationally acclaimed director (and younger brother)  Joe Calarco. A recent Drama Desk Nominee for Outstanding Director of a Musical for his work on In Transit, Mr. Calarco is also a frequent presence in the DC area.  He is an Artistic Associate at Signature Theatre, where he recently directed the world premiere of his own play Walter Cronkite is Dead. Other work at Signature includes Assassins (Helen Hayes Award Best Director), the world premiere of Norman Allen’s Nijinsky’s Last Dance (Helen Hayes Awards for Best Director and Best Play), Side Show (Helen Hayes Awards for Best Musical and Best Director), Elegies: a song cycle (Helen Hayes nomination Best Musical), Urinetown (8 Helen Hayes Awards including Best Musical and Best Director), and the world premiere of his own play in the absence of spring.  He also directed the world premiere of Renee Calarco’s Short Order Stories for Charter Theatre in Virginia.

Playing the seemingly idyllic Mo and Brian are Colleen Delany and Chris Stezin. Ms. Delany last appeared at Theater J in Bal Masque, Talley’s Folly, and the Theater J coproduction with Woolly Mammoth of Jump/Cut. She recently was nominated for a Helen Hayes Award for her performance as Captain Freely in Imagination Stage’s Pirates: A Boy At Sea. Ms. Delany is also a frequent performer at The Shakespeare Theatre Company, and recently appeared at Arena Stage, playing Ann in Edward Albee’s At Home at the Zoo. Chris Stezin is perhaps most well-known to DC audiences as the Associate Artistic Director of Charter Theatre Company.  The Religion Thing renews the collaboration that he began with the Calarcos when Charter Theater produced Short Order Stories. Mr.Stezin last appeared at Theater J in Born Guilty.  Making her Theater J mainstage debut is Kimberly Gilbert as the much-divided lawyer and recent bride Patti. A Company member at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, she recently appeared in their hit productions of The Vibrator Play and Clybourne Park. She is also familiar to DC audiences from her many appearances as a Taffety Punk Theatre Company member.  Playing her equally divided husband Jeff is Will Gartshore.  In addition to appearing in the Fords’s Theatre / Theater J upcoming coproduction of PARADE,  Mr. Gartshore appeared at Theater J in the 2011 benefit reading of The Sunshine Boys, and the 2008 production of David in Shadow and Light. He has received two Helen Hayes Awards, and been nominated eight times.  Appearing in multiple roles ranging from past lovers to grandparents is Patrick Smith. Mr. Smith last appeared in 1st Stage’s production of The Mousetrap and Washington Shakespeare Company’s Night and Day. This is his first performance at Theater J.

February 4-19, 2012
THE KINSEY SICKS TAKE (A)BACK AMERICA
A World Premiere Commission from the creators of “Oy Vey in a Manger”

Press Night: Sunday, February 5 at 7:30

“If you haven’t made the acquaintance of the Kinsey Sicks, it’s high time you did” – The Washington Post

 Join the Kinsey Sicks at the official launch of their groundbreaking campaign to become the first Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet to win the Republican nomination for President! With an ear attuned to current events, watch the gals try to take America (a)back to a place it never was by out-pandering, out-conspiracy theory-ing and out-outlandishing even the most cynical of the current crop of Presidential candidates, all in glorious, tongue-in-cheek four-part harmony.

The Kinsey Sicks began in 1993, when four friends went to a Bette Midler concert in drag, not realizing that they would be the only ones at the concert to do so. One Off-Broadway show, an extended run in Las Vegas, two feature films, six CDs, and appearances throughout North America, South America and Europe—the Kinsey Sicks beautyshop quartet has made dragapella history. Their shows include Sicks Appeal, Sicks-Tease , Everything but the Kitsch’n’Synch and GreatesTits.

February 29-April 1, 2012
NEW JERUSALEM: THE INTERROGATION
OF BARUCH DE SPINOZA
By David Ives
Directed by Jeremy Skidmore
Featuring Helen Hayes Award nominees
Alexander Strain and Michael Tolaydo
With Ethan Bowen, Brandon McCoy, Colleen Delany
and Larry Redmond.

Press Night: Sunday, March 4 at 7:30

“A gallery of intriguing characters, non-stop enlightened argument and even—hold the phone—a socko finish.”- The Washington Post

Nominated for three Helen Hayes Awards, including Best Resident Production

The return of Theater J’s 2010 sold-out production. A literate, suspenseful retelling of the story of the 1656 interrogation of philosopher Baruch de Spinoza, New Jerusalem examins the clash between religion and modernity, faith and philosophy—questions that human beings continue to grapple with.

Culminating with a national symposium debating the continuing writ of excommunication against Spinoza.

 Playwright David Ives’s trademark humor has made him one of the most renowned contemporary playwrights in America. Mr. Ives most recently made headlines with his hit production of Venus In Furs at The Studio Theatre, his acclaimed adaptation of The Liar at the Shakespeare Theatre Company and the upcoming Shakespeare Theatre  Company’s production of his new adaption of The Heir Apparent. Ives authored the classic All in The Timing (1994), a collection of one-act comedies including The Philadelphia, Sure Thing and Variations on the Death of Trotsky. His play Don Juan in Chicago (2003) received the Outer Critic’s Circle’s John Gassner Playwriting Award and a Drama Desk nomination for outstanding play. The Washington Post recently quoted director Walter Bobbie deeming Ives “one of America’s great wits” and a writer with “extraordinary range and intellectual muscle.”

New Jerusalem will again be directed by Jeremy Skidmore, who received a Helen Hayes Award nomination for Outstanding Director of a Resident Play for his work on Forum Theatre’s Angels in America: Millennium Approaches. Other recent directing projects include My Name is Asher Lev at Round House Theatre and Dirty Blonde at Signature Theatre.  He is currently pursuing his MBA, and working as the founding director of Capital Talent Agency.

 Alexander Strain returns to the Theater J stage to repeat his Helen Hayes Award-nominated performance as the alleged apostate Spinoza.  Most recently, he appeared at Theater J as Ray Gosling in Photograph 51. As Theater J’s Associate-Artist-In-Residence for the 2009-2010 season, Mr. Strain appeared in The Seagull on 16th Street, The Rise and Fall of Annie Hall, Honey Brown Eyes and Pangs of the Messiah.  Most recently, he acted in Angels in America and directed One Flea Spare at Forum Theatre, where he is also a company member.  Michael Tolaydo reprises his Helen-Hayes nominated performance as Spinoza’s mentor Rabbi Mortera after last delighting audiences in The Accident and Benedictus. In the DC area, he has acted in The Real Inspector Hound, Uncle Vanya, Privates on Parade, Blue Heart and Waiting for Godot. His Broadway credits include A Moon for the Misbegotten, Kingdoms, Dirty Linen/ New Found Land, The Robber Bridegroom, The Time of Your Life, The Three Sisters and Edward II.

 Also resuming their roles are Ethan Bowen as Ben Israel, the synogogue’s parnas (elder); Brandon McCoy as Spinoza’s good friend Simon and Lawrence Redmond as the austere city leader Valkenburgh.  Mr. Bowen recently appeared in Treasure Island at Round House Theatre; Brooklyn Boy and 13 Rue du L’Amour at Olney Theater Center and The Faculty Room at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. Brandon McCoy, who just completed a run of No Rules Theatre Company’s Touch has also gained notice appearing in The Studio Theatre 2ndStage’s Songs of Dragons Flying Up To Heaven. Mr. Redmond last appeared at Theater J as Samuel in David in Shadow and Light. He also performed in Theater J’s A Bad Friend, Picasso’s Closet and Life in Refusal. He has received eight Helen Hayes Award nominations, and won two Awards. DC theaters at which he has performed include Arena Stage, where he is an Affiliate Artist, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Round House Theatre, Folger Theatre, The Studio Theatre and Signature Theatre.  They are joined by Colleen Delany, fresh from her performance in THE RELIGION THING, who comes to the NEW JERUSALEM cast to portray Spinoza’s bitter and outspoken sister.

 April 18-May 20, 2012
THE WHIPPING MAN
By Matthew Lopez
Directed by Jennifer Nelson
Featuring Alexander Strain and David Emerson Toney

Press Night: Monday, April 23 at 7:30

“Emotionally potent…carries a quiet force”- The New York Times

 1865; Richmond, Virginia: Two newly-freed slaves and the son of their former master—a Jewish Confederate soldier who has retreated to the burnt remains of his home—inhabit the disordered aftermath of the just-concluded War Between the States. As the three men celebrate a most unconventional Passover Seder, they uncover a snarl of secrets and examine what it really means to be free.

 Matthew Lopez’s play The Whipping Man was recently staged to critical acclaim at the Manhattan Theatre Club. Mr. Lopez’s work has also been developed at the McCarter Theatre, The New Group, Ars Nova and The Lark Play Development Center. Other plays include Tio Pepe (Summer Play Festival 2008), Reverberation, and Zoey’s Perfect Wedding. He is a current member of the Ars Nova Writers’ Group and an artist-in-residence at the Old Globe Theatre.

Jennifer Nelson may be best known to DC audiences as the Founding Artistic Director of the African Continuum Theatre Company, where she remained Producing Artistic Director until 2007. While at the African Continuum Theatre Company, she directed nearly twenty productions, including Intimate Apparel, The Oracle, and A Raisin in the Sun.  Other recent directing credits include The Soul Collector at Everyman Theatre, where she has also directed Gem of the Ocean, Slow Dance on the Killing Ground and The Pavilion among others; Jitney and Black Pearl Sings! at Ford’s Theatre; and the world premiere of Locomotion at the Kennedy Center Family Theatre.  Ms. Nelson served as the president for the League of Washington Theatres for two terms, and is a current board member of Theatre Communications Group (TCG).  She is also the Director of Special Programming at Ford’s Theatre, and an adjunct professor of Georgetown University.

 Fresh from his appearance in New Jerusalem: The Interrogation of Baruch de Spinoza, Alexander Strain will appear on the Theater J stage as Caleb, the Jewish Confederate soldier who returns from battle to find his world in shambles. He will play opposite David Emerson Toney, who will portray Simon, the faithful newly-freed slave. Mr. Toney recently appeared at Ford’s Theatre in The Heavens Are Hung In Black and Jitney. Other recent credits include Measure for Measure at The Folger Theatre and The Persians at The Shakespeare Theatre.  Mr. Toney has performed in theatres throughout the DC area, including Roundhouse Theatre, Arena Stage, The Studio Theatre and the Contemporary American Theatre Festival.

 

June 6-July 8, 2012
The Annual Arthur Tracy “The Street Singer”
Endowment Production
THE HISTORY OF INVULNERABILITY
By David Bar Katz
Directed by Shirley Serotsky

Press Night: Monday, June 11 at 7:30

“In my book, Bar Katz has X-ray vision to see into the human soul, and his powerful play should be required viewing.”- City Beat, Cincinnati
2011 ACTA/Steinberg New Play Award Finalist

 Behind every great superhero is a determined creator. In 1930s America, that creator was usually a young Jewish man with an active imagination. Katz’s play illuminates the story of Jerry Siegel—the brains behind Superman’s brawn—and the imagined struggle between the creative father and his uber-mensch son. Siegel wrestles to retain control of his famous comic book sensation as America is drawn into WWII.

David Bar Katz co-wrote and directed the Broadway production of Freak, which was nominated for two Tony Awards (including Best Play), and earned Katz an Emmy nomination for the HBO presentation of the play. The History of Invulnerability was a finalist for the 2011 ACTA Steinberg New Play Award, the CEA “Best Premiere of the Year” and the Acclaim Award for “Outstanding Play” World Premiere at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. Other theater projects include Oh The Power, directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman at the LAByrinth Theater Company Barn Series, Philip Roth in Khartoum, Burning, Burning, Burning, Burning, What A Way To Go and The Atmosphere of Memory. He is currently collaborating with Will Wright (Sim City/Spore) on a film, set in the world of online gaming; writing a musical theater version of the film, The Hebrew Hammer; and adapting a Graham Greene novel.

In addition to serving as Theater J’s Director of Literary and Public Programming, Shirley Serotsky has also directed Theater J’s productions The Moscows of Nantucket, The Rise and Fall of Annie Hall and Mikveh.  Recently, she garnered rave reviews with her production of Juno and the Paycock at Washington Shakespeare Theatre, and directed the well-received staged reading of Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo at Arena Stage for their New Play Festival.

 ALL PLAYS, DATES, AND THEATRES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE.

###


THEATER J LAUNCHES “LOCALLY GROWN: COMMUNITY SUPPORTED ART/FROM OUR OWN GARDEN” FEATURING WORK BY RENEE CALARCO, JACQUELINE LAWTON, JON SPELMAN, STEPHEN SPOTSWOOD, GWYDION SUILEBHAN AND LAURA ZAM

(Washington, DC)—Theater J is proud to announce the launch of a new festival focusing on the thriving Washington DC playwright scene, “Locally Grown: Community Supported Art (CSA)/ From Our Own Garden.” This robust new initiative is inspired in part by the “locovore” and Community Supported Agriculture movements which focus on cultivating, appreciating and utilizing local resources for local consumption.  Theater J’s dynamic new initiative translates these principles to DC’s burgeoning theatre scene,  fostering the talent of DC playwrights through four mini-commissions, round-table discussions and readings throughout the summer and fall, culminating in staged readings throughout  January and February.  Artistic Director Ari Roth comments on the festival’s ambitions to “place value on that which has taken root within our the community, and to invest in our own artists and their professional development and then export that talent  to the rest of the nation.”

The Locally Grown festival will feature works from area writers at every stage of development, and incorporates three main components: the world premiere of THE RELIGION THING, a new play by emerging playwright Renee Calarco; workshop presentations of THE PROSTATE DIALOGUES, a new solo performance piece by established artist Jon Spelman; and four readings of new works by local playwrights Jacqueline Lawton, Stephen Spotswood, Gwydion Suilebhan, and performance artist Laura Zam.

The Locally Grown Initiative capitalizes on the somewhat under-the-radar but thriving community of local playwrights who have had work produced at smaller theatres throughout the DC area. Ari Roth remarks on this rich and fertile community noting, “The environment has changed…there are a whole lot of small farms now, and you can dine at home on the finest foods grown just outside our doorstep!” Stephen Spotswood, one of the featured local playwrights affirms that his career in DC has been “usefully chaotic,” observing, “I moved to the DC area about 7 years ago and in that time the number of companies, either creating new work or producing existing work, has grown incredibly. I’ve never wanted for talented actors, directors, and designers…and they get really excited about new plays.” Jacqueline Lawton notes the unique character of local audiences, remarking, “DC audiences are intelligent, savvy, and sophisticated.  Who better to have in a room and respond to your work?” In a recent essay entitled “Making Art in DC” Gwydion Suilebhan cites the proximity of the government as a cause for DC’s deep pool of talented playwrights, stating, “If you want to speak truth to power…this is a great place to do it” and asserting that “living in the immense shadow of such towering political power…is essential to the development of a DC-specific artistic and cultural voice.”

It is this DC-specific artistic and cultural voice that the Locally Grown festival seeks to nurture.

Anchoring the festival is a full production of Renee Calarco’s THE RELIGION THING, running from January 4 through the 29th. THE RELIGION THING tells the story of Mo and Brian, a picture-perfect DC couple: they’re smart, they’re witty, and they have a beautifully remodeled kitchen. But when Mo’s best friend Patti announces she’s found Jesus and is putting her own career on hold, Mo must take a closer look at the harder truths surrounding her own marriage. A brand new comedy about relationships, faith and the fine line between compromise and regret.

Renee Calarco’s history at Theater J began with a July 2010 Tea@2 new play reading of an early draft of THE RELIGION THING, initially titled Good Counsel. She has also been a frequent contributor to the ‘5×5 Playwrights Respond’ post-performance reading series  which produces five five-minute works by local artists responding to a mainstage production. Her play Short Order Stories received the 2007 Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play. Other plays include Keepers of the Western Door and a one-act play, The Mating of Angela Weiss.

Throughout January and February, Theater J will collaborate with local storyteller and performance artist Jon Spelman on several workshop presentations of his newest work-in-development: THE PROSTATE DIALOGUES. This one-of-a-kind solo piece is also set in the DC metro area, and the material is drawn from Spelman’s experience with prostate cancer and his recovery from a radical prostatectomy in 2009. Spelman is currently cancer-free, but he is still coping with the surgery’s effects on both his physiology and relationships.  In the piece, Spelman  includes scenes of other cancer survivors, exploring the impact that their illness and treatment has had on their sexuality and relationships. Mr. Spellman will perform the piece on Tuesday, January 24th at 7:30pm, and in repertory with Laura Zam’s MARRIED SEX on Monday, January 10th at 7:30pm.

 

Jacqueline Lawton approaches the inner life of the painter in an entirely different way, theatrically re-imagining the true story of famed artist Viktor Lowenfeld and his illustrious pupil, John Bigger in THE HAMPTON YEARS read on Monday, January 16at 7:30. Lowenfeld joined the Hampton Institute in Virginia in 1939 as assistant professor of Industrial Arts and studio art teacher. He was later appointed as Chairman of the Art Department and in 1945, he was named curator of the distinguished collection of Black African Art at the Hampton Institute. Burgeoning artist John Bigger, who went on to become an internationally acclaimed painter, sculptor, teacher and philosopher, was his student.  THE HAMPTON YEARS examines the impact of World War II on Jewish immigrants living in the United States and their role in shaping the lives and careers of African American students in the segregated south.

Jacqueline E. Lawton received her MFA in Playwriting from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a James A. Michener Fellow. She participated in the Kennedy Center’s Playwrights’ Intensive (2002) and World Interplay (2003). She is the author of Anna K; Blood-bound and Tongue-tied; Deep Belly Beautiful; A Delicate People; The Devil’s Sweet Water; Ira Aldridge: the African Roscius (National Portrait Gallery commission); Lions of Industry, Mothers of Invention (Discovery Theater commission); and Mad Breed (Active Cultures commission). Her plays have been developed and produced at Active Cultures, Classical Theater of Harlem, theHegira, Kennedy Center’s Page to Stage Festival, National Museum of American History, National Portrait Gallery, Rorschach Theater Company, Round House Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Source Festival, and Woolly Mammoth Theater Company. Lawton’s 10 minute plays have been produced as a part of Rorschach Theater Company’s MythAppropriations, Round House Theatre’s the Heyday Players, and the Source Festival. Ms. Lawton is a three-time semi-finalist for the Playwright’s Center PlayLabs and a two-time recipient of the Young Artist Program Grant from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities for Playwriting.

The multifaceted and holistic exploration of sexuality, relationships, and physiology continues with Laura Zam’s MARRIED SEX, a one-woman show exploring a woman’s quest to understand her body and her past.  MARRIED SEX is the story of a woman whose sex life with her new husband is not great—her body just doesn’t respond the way she’d like it to. So off she goes to different kinds of experts to see if they can help her: she sees a shrink, spiritual guru, a sex therapist, a tantric master, and even a hypnotist. She puts weights in her vagina and talks to other women (and their partners) about what sexual issues these people face; these conversations start off each chapter à la When Harry Met Sally. In the end, based on her experiences, the protagonist begins to see the true possibilities of love and intimacy. For the first time in her life, she understands what it means to heal in the arms of another.  MARRIED SEX will be presented in repertory with THE PROSTATE DIALOGUES on Monday, January 10th and a second presentation Monday, February 13th at 7:30pm.

 Laura Zam is an award-winning writer, speaker, performer, trainer, and coach, who has created seven  one-person plays; she’s performed these at the Kennedy Center, The National Theatre, Off-Broadway, and others venues around the world. Her work has been described by The Washington Post as “smart,” “beautiful,” and “funny.” She’s been featured on NPR, ABC-TV, and in a host of publications. As an extension of her art, Laura does recovery work with post-trauma populations, including teens from the Middle East, wounded soldiers returning from combat, and sexual abuse survivors. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Brown University, and she’s been published extensively in the US and abroad.

Gwydion Suilebhan examines relationships under a different light in the conceptually creative HOT & COLD, presented as a reading on Monday, February 6 at 7:30pm. HOT & COLD probes the genuine horror of disease and dis-ease that lives beneath the surface of the antiseptic suburban world by juxtaposing the hot zone of the Biohazard Lab and the cold chill of an ordinary kitchen on Christmas morning. In the lab, a pair of scientists — accidentally exposed to a rare virus and subsequently quarantined — struggle to remain rational as they degrade into a horrifying display of almost inhuman violence and panic.  In the kitchen, meanwhile, an out-of-her-depth Jewish mother tries her best to prepare and serve an authentic Christmas dinner for her hapless son, his Catholic fiancé, and her family — while they all negotiate the terms of the children’s interfaith wedding ceremony. The two halves of HOT & COLD will be joined by a shared wall; a scientist reaching into a virus incubator on one side of the stage will be mirrored by various family members reaching into an oven on the other.  The play explores viruses of both the body and mind, and the lengths that we’ll go to in order to avoid catching it—whatever “it” is.

 Gwydion Suilebhan is a DC-based playwright, theater blogger, and digital communications strategist.  He is the author of Reals, Abstract Nude, The Constellation, Let X, The Faithkiller, Cracked, The Great Dismal, and Buggy & Tyler. His plays have been commissioned, produced, workshopped, and read by theaters in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, DC, St. Louis, and Boston, including (among others) the Ensemble Studio Theatre, Theater J, Active Cultures, Source Theater Festival, HotCity Theatre, Midtown International Theatre Festival, Capital Fringe Festival, Maieutic Theatre Works, Towne Street Theatre, Point of Contention Theatre, Intentional Theatre Group, and Theater of the First Amendment. He has received two Individual Artist Fellowships from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and in 2009 he was a finalist for Outstanding Emerging Artist at the DC Mayor’s Arts Awards.  He is currently serving as resident playwright for the Taffety Punk Theatre Company.

In his chamber drama COLD NOVEMBER LIGHT, read on Monday, January 23 at 7:30pm, Stephen Spotswood paints a portrait of two artists whose personal tragedies have left them isolated from the rest of humanity, and who help each other find a place in the world.  The son of an avant-garde Jewish filmmaker who named names during the McCarthy Hearings, Harry has spent his entire life retreating from society and immersing himself in his paintings. His talent is only equaled by his intense social coarseness and his dislike of people. Gwen, Harry’s latest model, lost the use of her legs as a child. Newly arrived in the city, this is her first attempt to create an autonomous life in what she is finding to be a hostile world. From their last meeting to their first, this play follows Harry and Gwen as they form a surprising relationship, and threaten to destroy each other in the process.

Stephen Spotswood is a playwright and journalist. Previously produced works include: The Resurrectionist King; A Cre@tion Story for Naomi; The Aaronsville Woman; Miranda is Morning; Seven Lessons on Suicide; Born Normal; and Gilgamesh, who saw the deep. For the last two years, he has been a teaching artist at Imagination Stage, working with a company of students to create and produce original plays. He is a cofounder of Bright Alchemy Theatre, a company of artists devoted to the creation of devised work, whose next piece will be workshopped as part of the Mead Theatre Lab program this fall. His play, The Sisters of Ellery Hollow, will premiere this summer at the Capital Fringe Festival. He also volunteers his time as literary assistant and occasional dramaturg at Theater J.

###

One thought on “2011-2012 Season and Locally Grown Festival Press Releases Below:

  1. Pingback: » They Grow Playwrights in DC, Don’t They? Stephen Spotswood

Comments are closed.