In order to expand the context of our “Voices From a Changing Middle East Festival” and allow for a more comprehensive conversation of the issues raised by this new work-in-development, Theater J has decided to restructure this year’s festival and has modified the production of The Admission to a staged three-week workshop presentation, complemented by three additional weeks of yet-to-be-announced programming which will incorporate a variety of narratives and viewpoints.
The workshop presentation of The Admission will run from March 20 – April 6, 2014. All subscribers who already have tickets for performances after April 7 will be able to exchange their tickets for earlier dates. Please contact the Box Office Tickets Subscriber Hotline at (202) 470-4779 or firstname.lastname@example.org to exchange your tickets.
In addition, all subscribers with reservations for The Admission will be offered tickets to additional programming in the Voices Festival as programming is announced. We thank you for your support, flexibility and for being part of this important play development process and critical conversation around Israel.
The Theater J Team
Below is a fairly comprehensive list of the news stories that have come out discussing the changes in the festival schedule.
• We lead with the very comprehensively reported piece in the Washington Jewish Week penned by Meredith Jacobs, Editor-in-Chief, with contributions from Suzanne Pollak as well. The header: “Theater J backs away from disputed play: ‘The Admission’ will be ‘workshopped’ after group calls for boycott of Federation.”
• The Washington Post follows up with a story co-written by Peter Marks and Nelson Pressley, “Theater J scales back plans to stage controversial play ‘The Admission’”
• The Forward comes in with two pieces, a first piece of reporting by Natan Guttman,”Theater J Scales Back Show as Pro-Israel Critics Pressure Washington D.C. Troupe. ‘The Admission’ Will Be Workshop — Not Full Production”
• University of Maryland Professor of History Paul Scham, Executive Director of the Gildenhorn Institute for Israel Studies contributes these two pieces, reporting both on the recent turn of events at the theater and taking apart some of the denunciations that our theater’s most vociferous detractors have been making. His most recent blog posting, “Fear and Censorship in Washington, D.C.” This follows up on the strong response he made to Copma’s October 2 broadside. Paul’s first piece is entitled “The Admission and the Question of the Tantura Massacre: A Reply to Copma.”
• From the more partisan camps, we read Caroline Glick in The Jerusalem Post. Ordinarily, we wouldn’t cite an article so derisive and unflattering. But Caroline is a fellow alum of Chicago’s Akiba-Solomon Schechter Jewish Day School in Hyde Park and Caroline’s parents were wonderful members of a group of families— most members of Congregation Rodfei Zedek—where we all prayed together, and where we supported each other, and where we attended each others simchas, and more recently, came together on sad occasions too. When Caroline’s wonderful father past away this summer, our family was there at the funeral. Caroline’s older sister lives in our greater DC community and is a friend and somewhat regular attendee of our theater. Her son was sitting in our theater just this summer and we had a wonderful talk. So this disputation, as it were, feels all in the family, though Caroline doesn’t acknowledge that; or won’t allow that there are different ways of loving and engaging with Israel and its artists and its history in a mature way. I don’t know why Caroline turned out the way she did. But she doesn’t like our theater. Here’s her piece, under the header, “The Bothersome, Annoying Truth.”
• From the other side of the political divide, we can read a sampling from MondoWeiss with two pieces, one from the first day of the controversy and a second, under the header, “‘Washington Post’ delves into Nakba– as theater seeks to balance play about Palestinian massacre with ‘Golda’s Balcony’. Mind you, we may not get the rights to Golda’s Balcony; in fact, it’s likely we may not as the rights are said to be tied up with a national tour. On the other hand, we might just get lucky and find a way to land the show. We’ll be announcing our expanded programming line-up of readings and workshops in November.
• Finally, there’s this from Muzzle Watch and this Opinion piece in the Washington Post’s Letters to the Editor section under the title “There’s room for more than one view on Israel” by William Simonds. Not to be outdone or lest we leave this debate without a counter-argument, today brings a response on the Opinion page from Lee Golan Fischgrund under the header, “A conversation based on a falsehood.”
Next, we’ll begin to hear from people who’ve actually had a chance to read the entirety of Motti Lerner’s play, a play which will be presented in a public workshop on November 1 in Israel. I’ll be there, participating in the post-show panel discussion along with many others. Expect updates.