Three New Great Reviews – Let’s Hear Yours (and Introducing Our Student Bloggers!)

Thursday’s brought a trio of great new notices, worth sharing, comparing, and adding your own voice to.  We start with Broadway

And follow it up with The Washington City Paper

And the wonderful review in Washington Jewish Week that, surprisingly, takes an unexpected turn in the last sentence.  Wonder what you think about Lisa Traiger’s final advisory.

This is also the place to officially welcome 16 students from University of Michigan, University of California at Berkeley and Merced, and Notre Dame University; all under-grads residing here in DC for the semester enjoying internships by day on Capital Hill, taking 3 or so classes at night, and one of the electives is my “A Theater of Politics & The Politics of Theater” course.  This semester, as in years previous, all enrolled students will become subscribers to Theater J and see everything we’re offering over the next 15 weeks.  Look for students blogs on readings and productions.  And look for connections being made between what we’re producing, and what we’re seeing produced on other area stages.  The triangular focus of the course this semester locates three dominant themes:




Clearly, Annie Baker’s play BODY AWARENESS finds its resonance to our course focus in this third category, as we look most closely on the dilemmas posed by the character of Frank and the fierce resistance to the work as evinced by Phyllis.  Joyce is caught (as she is for much of the play about a great many subjects) between Frank and Phyllis’ conflicting visions of what makes for healthy art.  I’m eager to hear people’s take on Phyllis’ fiery critique of Frank’s unseen work (unseen by us, that is).

Some audiences really take to Frank.  They find utterly comfortable with himself; in contrast to Phyllis.  They appreciate his real-world reconciliation with contradiction.  Whereas a minority of others feel Frank remains “a sleaze-ball.”  That’s what makes a horse race.

Your thoughts?

Students will be writing for a general readership here.  Our general readership should feel free to chime in — we’ll keep formal corrections of spelling and the like off the table for a bit — unless we see that there’s really a need to focus attention on some basics.  For now, given the early comments for a few extra credit postings covering Theater J offerings this past weekend, we’re off to a good start.

A few pointers and notes of encouragement.  We like appreciative comments.  But we don’t feel the need to ONLY read supportive comments from students.  Constructive, supportive, humble, insightful criticism can be broached here.

We’ll also put an emphasis on postings not repeating observations and language used earlier.  He or she who posts early has less of a burden of being original!

Again, this is a format whereby students–now Theater J subscribers–are being welcomed into our adult conversations about the work.  We don’t see this as students taking over the discourse.  We see this as a joining of the conversation.  So adults, let’s hold up our end and respond! Let’s add our own voices and impressions about the work we’re seeing.  And respond to the postings as we are inspired.




15 Nominations! (Er… Make That 16!)

Look what we got in the mail from the good people at DC Theatre Scene, 

“We are pleased to inform you that your company is among the nominees for the sixth annual audience choice awards. Our writers considered 274 productions to nominate the best productions and performances in the categories of Plays, Musicals, Operas, and Family Shows.”

Our nominations are:


After The Fall,  Theater J
Imagining Madoff, Theater J
The Whipping Man, Theater J

Parade, Ford’s Theatre and Theater J



Alexander Strain (Baruch de Spinoza)  New Jerusalem: The Interrogation of Baruch de Spinoza, Theater J
Alexander Strain (Caleb), The Whipping Man, Theater J
David Deblinger (Jerry Siegel) The History of Invulnerability, Theater J
David Emerson Toney (Simon) The Whipping Man, Theater J
Michael Tolaydo (Mortera), New Jerusalem: The Interrogation of Baruch de Spinoza, Theater J
Mike Nussbaum (Solomon Galkin) Imagining Madoff,Theater J
Mitchell Hébert (Quentin), After the Fall, Theater J
Rick Foucheux (Bernard Madoff), Imagining Madoff, Theater J


Gabriela Fernandez-Coffey (Maggie), After The Fall, Theater J


Euan Morton (Leo Frank), Parade, Ford’s Theatre
Kevin McAllister (three stunning roles), Parade, Ford’s Theatre

Jenny Fellner (Lucille Frank) Parade, Ford’s Theatre and Theater

If you would like to vote for your favorite play, just visit DC Theatre Scene and fill out a ballot before August 14th. Happy Thursday!

Artistic Interpretation

Shirley here.

We do a fair amount of Artistic Interpretation here at the J: turning history and biography into theater; adapting literary work for the stage; or simply bringing to life the stories our playwrights create. But what happens when someone else Artistically Interprets us?

In May, Director of Community Outreach and New Media Becky Peters asked local comic artists to respond to THE HISTORY OF INVULNERABILITY through their art.  We received submissions from established and beginning artists alike, and all three were new to Theater J. We couldn’t have been more thrilled with these thoughtful, perceptive takes on the story.

From Carolyn Belefski of Curls Studio:

Carolyn displays a new Curls comic strip every Monday and Thursday and offends and/or entertains with her improv podcast, The Carolyn and Joe Show, each Tuesday. She collaborates with writer Joe Carabeo on the comic books Kid Roxy, Black Magic Tales and The Legettes.

Enjoy her blog, visit the Curls Studio store, and listen to her podcasts at

From Raymond H. Allard:

Raymond writes: I began my artistic career after graduating with a BFA in Fine Art by working in the advertising department of a great metropolitan newspaper.  Naturally I pursued the art of making comic books.  Later, I joined the Foreign-Service wife as we traveled overseas for twenty years, and I learned to teach academic writing.  In my life I have experimented with almost every known form of artistic expression except expressive dance. (I cannot dance.)  So I am an artist, print-maker, poet, playwright, author, cartoonist, essayist, musician, actor, teacher, comedian and gardener.

And finally, from Andrew Cohen:

And, while I reported on our disappointing techFail in recording some of our final panels of last season, I was pleased to discover that our panel with Local Comic Artists was recorded, produced, and posted on Carolyn’s blog–so have a listen! This subject relates not only to this production, but to our overall Locally Grown initiative mission–in which we aim to shine a light on artists living and working in the DC-area. So seek out these artists, and if you’re intrigued–buy their books!

Wrapping Up as We Start Anew

As we prepare for the first read and design presentations of BODY AWARENESS, our official start to the 2012-2013 season, I realize that I’ve been remiss in tying up some loose ends.

July was a hot month, and also a hotbed of activity–here at Theater J, and beyond (as evidenced by the CapFringe update below). During the final two weeks of THE HISTORY OF INVULNERABILITY, we welcomed to the stage several important members of the Washington, DC comic community for panel discussions.

On Sunday, July 1 at 5:15pm we hosted the conversation: Why Comics Matter: The Social Relevance of Comic Books with

We were so pleased to have this group, and while I am sorry to say we had a big technology fail in which none of our video clips came out with actual sound, I want to thank them all for being enthusiastic but not exclusive in their sharing of this world with us. Comics can feel pretty insider to those on the outside, but this was a welcoming and personable bunch, fielding questions about the way gender is portrayed in comics; the evolution of story-telling throughout the history of comic books; the ways in which technology has changed the industry; and their hopes for the future of comics.

Please follow each of their respective links. They’re all involved in awesome projects and work with excellent organizations.

On Sunday, July 8 we discussed Comics in the District: A Discussion with Local Creators; a big thank you to Matt Dembicki, who both participated in, and curated this panel. The group included:

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