Theater J and The J Make History Today!

Okay, we’re not going to make a big deal of this, because it was a quiet roll-out; a gentle announcement; some 6 weeks ago, the Washington DCJCC Board unanimously approved a proposal from the Policy Committee to allow for programming on (and for) the sabbath; programming that would, as per the oversight and approval of the CEO of the J, be appropriate for shabbistic reflection, meditation, participation and engagement. In short, we’d be open for a kind of programming “that felt right.”  No money would change hands. Neither the liberal letter, nor the overarching spirit of the Sabbath would be violated.

And so today, we had our first Saturday afternoon performance of a play in the Aaron and Cecile Goldman Theater; the first time Theater J had performed on the Sabbath in this building. We’d already had approval from the DCJCC board to perform at Arena Stage on Saturday afternoons; we did The Chosen there in the Fichandler Theater on three consecutive Saturday afternoons back in March of 2011. And the earth did not open. The heavens did not shake (or roar). We did beautiful programming and it made for a nicer day for all, Jewish and non-Jewish alike.

Ditto today. We had 160+ patrons buy tickets in advance and come to partake in a stirring, stimulating, thought-provoking and moving 3-hour performance of Our Class.  Followed by a buoyant, probing 20 minute discussion immediately after. While all the actors ran out for a dinner break. Because it’s another performance at 8 tonight; Day 1 of a 2-day, 4-show weekend; another first for us at the J!  Pretty much, except, that is, for those late-night Saturday night performances of Kinsey Sicks and Sandra Bernhard following the regular 8 pm.  Bottom line, it felt right—it felt so right—to be offering this play on a Saturday.

And so it will go. We’ll be offering several Saturday matinees for Woody Sez, both in November and December. And we’ll be adding Sat Mats for Apples From The Desert, Boged and a couple for Race in the month of March. In short, we’re off to the races, but moving at a gentle trot’s pace. We’re only doing Sat Mat’s once or twice for each show this season. Cause we didn’t know how they’d do. But if today’s historic performance was any indication, we’ll be offering many more as time goes by.

A great big “thank you” then to the DCJCC board, our CEO, and the whole team here (and of course the Our Class company) for making this shabbat so meaningful, and this performance possible!