Culmination, Commencement, and The Upcoming Feature…

Ari here, taking the baton back from Grace, who’ll be getting it again from me shortly (aren’t her new postings great?!)

It’s a double-header today in our DCJCC library. Beginning at 10 am, Equity contracts get signed and, an hour after that, the full company assembles for design presentations, a welcome from our playwright, director, and artistic staff, and then, at long last, it’s the first read through of Deb Margolin’s epic chamber drama, the fabulously concentrated, pungent 90 minute one-act, IMAGINING MADOFF. How exciting to be returning to that which almost wasn’t ours but now, most fundamentally, is for us to share with our most curious community. This play’s a little rock star of a new work, which had an auspicious sneak-preview premiere last summer up at Stageworks Hudson, and now is coming back for the first of several productions around the country. We’ve got a fabulous cast. You’ll be hearing from and about all of them. Can’t wait to hear it today with Rick (Foucheux), Jen (Mendenhall), and Mike (Nussbaum). For us, this is a Dream Team. It exemplifies everything we’re about artistically; talent drawn from this very rich local community, but graced by national distinction as well, as Chicago’s pre-eminent thespian, the original Teach in American Buffalo, joins us for a perfect meeting between actor and character as he becomes our Solomon Galkin, the Holocaust survivor, poet and synagogue treasurer who teaches, embraces, and gives and loses so much to Bernie Madoff. Can’t wait to hear him (or did I say that already? I said that already. I must mean it!).

As rehearsals commence, we’ll be getting ready for our final get-together with the 24 members of the Theatre Lab ensemble who’ll be convening in the library tonight for our final debriefing after an enormously successful and productive 8 weeks working on THE BORN GUILTY CYCLE trilogy. Updates came fast but not furiously via Facebook, so if you missed out on the information on what transpired, become a Friend of Theater J on Facebook already and miss out no more!

There’s much to share about the four readings that happened in July — and great reward in knowing that this process sets the table for some meaningful productions still to come, be they here in DC–perhaps in conjunction with or at one or another of the theaters that attended the readings–or in New York or Chicago or Philly where interest is high. The process was long enough that it allowed me to travel to Germany for a week with my extended nuclear family, and deepen an understanding with what’s happening today in Berlin and in the community outside Marburg, in the village of Roth, where we were invited to participate in anniversary ceremonies commemorating the founding of the worker’s circle (the Arbeitskreis) that restored the crumbling old synagogue in the village that had been turned into a grain warehouse during and after WWII. The process stretched into that part of July when the violent events in Norway also came to cast a shadow on the issues raised by the play. That’s what I appreciated most about the structure of the class — it’s a rare opportunity for a playwright to work for 8 weeks with a cast in rehearsal mode. True, we were working on three plays at once. But that gift of time, of repeatedly hearing the work and then making adjustments accordingly, was a rare gift. Tonight I’ll repeat my thank yous to the generous cast, to the extraordinary leaders of The Theatre Lab, Deb Gottesman and Buzz Mauro, and to the two directors, instructors, and my dear Theater J colleagues and friends, Shirley Serotsky and Delia Taylor.

And finally…

This Sunday, the Washington Post finally publishes an article long in the making; Peter Marks’ report on Theater J’s Israel programming and the brush-back that came from a small pocket of the community and how that brush-back registered and impacted both the DCJCC, the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington and, to what extent, if any, the desire by the community critic to quell thought-provoking programming at the theater actually had on Theater J’s upcoming season. Peter Marks has been interviewing many people over the past few months. We’re all eager to read what he’s made of it all.

And then maybe, the Washington Post will finally let readers know what we’re planning to produce next season! It’s no secret, of course. There are many ways theaters have to get the word out, these days — a Washington Post article doesn’t need to be the first or only way for a season announcement to register. But, with every other major theater in DC sharing news with the paper about what they’re planning to produce next year, our announcement–ready to go since mid-April, will finally be shared with Post readers, either in the Marks feature, or sometime shortly thereafter. It’s been the Editor’s decision to hold off on the one, until the feature on “The Controversy” of last season was laid out in the paper. So soon it comes. And all will be more fully revealed.