Rolling Out Theater J’s New 2013-14 Season!

“Crucial Questions, Critical Fault Lines, Necessary Conversations”

All drama is predicated on a question. The more incisive the  inquiry, the more penetrating the drama. Ours is an artistic home where heat and light, respect and learning are being sewn into the fabric of a community quilt we’re creating together. We’re not hammering out position papers or policy platforms; we’re painting portraits of who we are in times of tension on a path toward more clarity and understanding and something close to resolution.

The questions we’re asking are about loyalty and representation; the right to life and the right to choose; whether we acknowledge, refute, defend, or apologize for the ravages of war; whether we place our faith in God—and whether we believe that fate, luck, or good works determine our ultimate future.

2013 – 2014 SEASON

The Argument
Our Suburb
Yellow Face
The Admission
Freud’s Last Session


Woody Sez
The Prostate Dialogues

These are the questions being asked by our playwrights; unafraid authors and performers who enter the arena of our fiercest cultural contretemps, whether the subject be The Blacklist, race and ethnicity, collateral damage from Israel’s War of Independence, or the existence of a deity.  Our playwrights are slugging it out and finding the light, presenting well-argued plays about people caught along a precarious seam of earth splitting underneath their feet.

One playwright, Tony Award winning David Henry Hwang, even writes a play with himself in the drama, as his name’s sake gets caught in the cultural and political crosshairs and indictments against him grow, extending to his entire family, involving questions of national security and the scourge of dual loyalty.  It’s his Pulitzer-finalist play Yellow Face and marks the first time Theater J has looked at the Asian American experience in America, a parallel story to the Jewish immigrant family sojourn and that generational drama of growing up in the Diaspora.

All our plays this season underscore the theater’s function as a place where The Big Questions are not just asked but enacted in story, debated not just in dialogue but in action, wrestled within the audience as plots unfold, and discussed after performances–not with policy-analytics but with the experienced emotion of a humanized debate informed by character and complexity. The conversations extend beyond our theater and lobby, onto our social media platforms in surprising, enlightening, engaging ways.

We’re offering an entertaining, hard hitting season, full of variety and relevance, tackling history and the present, birthing plenty of new but paying homage to some of the most established literary talent on the scene today.

Once again we’re local, international, and national in scope, recommitting to our twin signature festivals, “Locally Grown: Community Supported Art” and “Voices From a Changing Middle East” offering workshops, readings, Arts & Ideas Symposia, and inspired partnerships, this year with Arena Stage (in conjunction with their world premiere production of Camp David) and the Herzliyah Theatre Ensemble in our collaboration of The Admission.

One new innovation: Our Monthly Directors’ Forum where we will host an up-close look at each of our directors’ careers and their vision for their respective production currently in rehearsal with us.  We’ll feature a special segment this fall on Female Directors of DC–proud that we’ll have three great female directors working with us this season.

It’s a privilege to make theater in this city, in this Community Center, with this wonderful company of artists, for a spectacularly engaged and intelligent audience.  We’re full of thanks and appreciation for making a season like this possible.

Do join us!

Ari Roth
Artistic Director, Theater J

By Amy Herzog 

(regional premiere)
Directed by Derek Goldman
Featuring Nancy Robinette

The brilliant, promising Emma Joseph is primed to follow in the footsteps of her progressive political family. But when she discovers a troubling secret about her blacklisted grandfather, Emma must confront her family’s legacy, and her own path.

A bold and moving play from the Award-winning author of4,000 Miles (The New York Times – Outstanding Playwright), staged by the director of our Helen Hayes nominated production of Our Class.

“American’s most interesting young playwright.”
– The Wall Street Journal

back to top

A newly commissioned 2013 edition by Alexandra Gersten Vassilaros

Directed by Associate Artistic Director Shirley Serotsky

Sophie, a charming, vibrant artist, and Phillip, a loyal, solid businessman, are a 40-something couple whose new relationship is rocked when Sophie learns she is pregnant. As each fights for the only future he or she can imagine, they are both forced to recognize the profound cultural differences between them. And when the word “abortion” is introduced into the debate, all bets are off. 

The Argument chronicles the arc of a relationship with humor, passion, brutality, and up-to-the-minute relevance.

From the co-author of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize-finalistOmnium Gatherum.

back to top


Devised by David M. Lutken 

with Nick Corley

A special encore presentation of the three-time Helen-Hayes nominee. “Bound for Glory!” raved The Washington Post of last season’s sold out production. This boisterous musical celebrates America’s troubadour, the man behind ‘This Land is Your Land,’ ‘The Ballad of Tom Joad’ and more, with musical numbers, ample humor and heart-break from Woody’s rich life.

Followed by rousing weekly hootenannies after select performances.

back to top

A world premiere

By Darrah Cloud 

Directed by Tony-award winning actress and Broadway director Judith Ivey

An homage to Our Town, this world-premiere invites audiences to suburban Illinois in 1977, when the Nazis marched on Skokie. As the Major and Edelman families prepare for Christmas and Hanukkah, Ricky and Thornton fall into an interfaith teenage romance. Off to embark on exciting futures both inside and out of their suburban hamlet, the teenagers find themselves absorbed in a growing menace that turns into heartbreak, surprise, and headlines involving the whole community.

From the author of The Stick Wife and adapter of O Pioneers.

back to top

By David Henry Hwang 

(regional premiere)
Directed by Natsu Onoda Power

A satirical comedy about political correctness. When a Caucasian actor is cast as the Asian pimp in Broadway’s Miss Saigon, Hwang leads a public outcry protesting the cultural insensitivity. But when Hwang himself unwittingly casts a white actor to play the Asian protagonist of his new play, he must confront his own hypocrisies.

As he struggles to ‘save face’ amidst family politics, international intrigue and government investigations, Hwang explores timeless questions surrounding cultural identity, dual loyalty, and responsibility.

By David Henry Hwang (Tony-Award-Winning playwright of M. Butterfly and librettist for Disney’s Aida).Staged by the visionary director of Astro Boy and The God of Comics.

back to top

Voices From A Changing Middle East Festival

An English language world premiere

By Motti Lerner 

Directed by Sinai Peter
Produced in collaboration with Herzliya Ensemble Theatre
Featuring Michael Tolaydo

An Israeli homage to All My Sons set in Haifa during the first Intifada. Giora is a young professor engaged to Neta but in love with Samia, the Palestinian daughter of a family friend who becomes troubled when Giora’s father’s company begins building on the site of a battle that took place 40 years ago. Giora struggles to find the truth about his father’s war-time secrets, confronting the causes of his brother’s death and how Giora came to incur his own war-time injuries in Lebanon. As Giora’s family presses him to look forward, not back, the play asks how we can move forward toward peace while still wrestling with the ghosts of war.

From the author of Pangs of the Messiah and the winner of the Prime Minister of Israel Award for Writers, and staged by the Theater J’s director of Return to Haifa with designers from the Israeli premiere.

Presented in cooperation with the world premiere of Camp David, by Lawrence Wright at Arena Stage.  With Festival readings, workshops and discussions.

back to top

By Mark St. Germain 

(regional premiere)
Directed by Serge Seiden 
Featuring Todd Scofield

The celebrated long-running Off-Broadway hit stages a clash between intellectual giants Dr. Sigmund Freud, the legendary psychoanalyst, and C.S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia. On the day England enters World War II, Freud summons then unknown professor Lewis to his office for an impassioned exchange about God, love, sex, and the meaning of life.

From the author of Camping With Henry And Tom and inspired by Harvard’s Dr. Armand M. Nicholi Jr.’s best-selling book The Question of God.

back to top

Part of Locally Grown: Community Supported Art Festival

World Premiere
Written and performed
By Jon Spelman

Directed by Jerry Whiddon

Commissioned in Theater J’s 2012 Locally Grown festival, this dynamic solo performance by renowned story-teller John Spelman explores masculinity and mortality in the face of disease with humanity and humor.  Drawing from personal experience and interviews, Spelman examines the effects of prostate cancer and treatment on sexuality and relationships with warmth and candor.

back to top

SPECIAL PROGRAM Get to know the talented directors of Theater J’s 2013-2014 season in a series of intimate discussions presented in the style of ‘Inside the Actor’s Studio’. Each of our directors will discuss their body of work, their process and their upcoming Theater J production – select dates, Sep 2013-Jun 2014.Available as a subscription add-on
back to top
SPECIAL PROGRAM Theater J is dedicated to taking its dialogues beyond the stage, offering an array of innovative public discussion forums, readings, and outreach programs which explore the theatrical, psychological and social elements of our art throughout the year.Purchase a Beyond The Stage PASS and get unlimited access to all Beyond The Stage programming including Tea@2 Readings,Voices From A Changing Middle East Festival, and Locally Grown Festival Readings.back to topTo subscribe, click here

3 thoughts on “Rolling Out Theater J’s New 2013-14 Season!

  1. As I read The Prostate Dialogues, I found it to be a creative way to raise awareness about an issue that affects so many men. I really enjoyed how the play opened with some light humor to relax the reader/audience. The playwright/actor quipped, “I had to pass through three stages of prostate knowledge. First, I had to realize I had one. That took nearly thirty years. Second, twenty years later, I knew only that I had a prostate and mine was overgrown. …” The play then switched tracks and drove home the important message of how deadly prostate cancer can be. The play switched again telling a story about a man who exploded during a colonoscopy when his internal gasses ignited.
    The play is very powerful as it makes a call to action; demanding, not asking, the audience to get tested. I particularly love these lines – “Don’t wait until cancer has already got your body. Do it. I mean it.”
    The story format of the playwright’s monologue makes it very relate able to the audience and helps to keep the mood light. His story of pulling himself out of the MRI machine to pee and comparing it to pulling the thumb drive out of a computer is hilarious. I also enjoyed when the playwright compared the different types of treatments to killing roaches, “The external radiation expert wants to stand outside your kitchen window and shoot a twelve gauge shotgun into the cabinet under your sink and hopes to kill the roach without doing too much damage to the plumbing.” This quote is a great example of how the play is humorous while delivering the audience an abundance of relevant information. The play even includes technical medical definitions, such as the function of the prostate.
    The play takes a bit of an odd turn when the dialogue shifts to his penis. It gets even more uncomfortable when the conversation digresses into a discussion of Alprostadil injections.
    What makes the play powerful is the fact everyone has been touched by cancer in some way or another. The play asks us to look at our lives and do something about cancer instead of just sitting back and letting bad things happen to us. It gives the reader hope, because it puts some control back into our hands in a generally uncontrollable situation.
    Act Two opens with a discussion of the history of the penis with a particular focus on Latin and Greek culture. Having taken Latin, I found this part of the play quiet funny. The play comes back to reality as the playwright discusses his visit abroad to see his daughter, his last trip before surgery. This was very meaningful to me as I knew someone who did something very similar before major surgery. The audience is made to contemplate what is important in life and, undoubtedly, the correct answer is family. The Prostate Dialogues is both a call to action to get screened for prostate cancer and a heartfelt investigation into what is important in life.

  2. As my time in Washington, DC winds to an end, I can’t help but look back on my semester in the city and my immersion into the Washington scene. Many memorable moments flood into my mind as I realized the unbelievable experiences I have had in Washington. I’m very blessed to have met with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, had lunch with a US Senator, discussed politics with the former Ambassador to the Vatican, stood on the Speaker of the House’s personal balcony, attended a presidential inauguration and been to the top of the Capitol Building.
    Over the last few months Washington’s theaters have exposed me to many emotions and insights which I’m truly thankful. First, I have to thank Glengarry Glen Ross’ actors, director, playwright and staff. Glengarry Glen Ross was the first time in my life I attended a play and enjoyed it as much as going to a movie. Throughout the performance, I was not only thoroughly entertained, but also experienced a thought provoking performance. As Sam so eloquently said in his mid-term presentation, “Glengarry Glen Ross taught me that if you win the rat race, you’re still a rat.” His statement is very powerful for me as I contemplate my future career options as a finance major. While many paths are likely to lead me toward monetary wealth, it’s important to always remember character is more important than money and class is something that can’t be purchased. It’s moments like this when I realize just how valuable attending the Washington theater performances has been. How many college students have gotten an opportunity to experience the quality of cultural I have gotten in my time here? It has also forced me to sit and contemplate what I have just witnessed. For this, I’m truly thankful for having participated in the Washington theater class. Farewell.

  3. A Love Note to Washington DC:

    Dear DC,

    You are a beautiful temptress. Last summer you lured me in the your promise of grandeur only to spit me out and make me face my own inadequacies. What’s that? I’m one of 50 interns whose names you do not know? You say an intern doesn’t have any influence? You’d rather just have me answer the phones? Fine DC, you win this one — I will be back.

    And I did come back. You drew me in again after only a few months back home. I missed the high — you looked so beautiful from the other side. I had to come back for more. And guess what, you delivered. Thank you for making my second internship experience a memorable one. Thank you for making me feel challenged and important. Thank you for introducing me to people who I will keep in touch with not just to “network” but because I admire them.

    We are at another junction in our tumultuous relationship. I am about to leave you again for the west coast, and I really don’t know when I will be able to come back. I could tell you that I will call or write, but we’re better than surface niceties between ex-lovers. Let’s just say I will see you when I see you.

    But you must know, you’ve made your mark on me. I will never forget the humid summer afternoons sipping sangria at Jazz in the Park on Fridays after work. Or the most patriotic 4th of July I have ever celebrated. I won’t forget how beautiful you looked dressed up in cherry blossoms this spring. And I will be forever grateful that you introduced me to the theater. You really showed off for me — who knew you had such an artistic side to you?

    I am certain our paths will cross again, but until we meet again you will always be in my heart. And I’ve left a bit of my heart here for you as well.

    Love Always,

Comments are closed.