A Mid-Season Update

We are halfway through the 2015-2016 season and it has been an incredible year so far with some exciting firsts for Theater J.

At the recent Helen Hayes nominations, Theater J received five nominations, including four for QUEENS GIRL IN THE WORLD.
• The James MacArthur Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play — HAYES Production, Michael Willis, SONS OF THE PROPHET
• Outstanding Lead Actress in a Play — HAYES Production, Dawn Ursula, QUEENS GIRL IN THE WORLD
• Outstanding Director of a Play — HAYES Production, Eleanor Holdridge, QUEENS GIRL IN THE WORLD
• The Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding Original New Play or Musical, Caleen Sinnette Jennings, QUEENS GIRL IN THE WORLD
• Outstanding Play — HAYES Production, QUEENS GIRL IN THE WORLD

Theater J has never before received nominations for lead actress, director, playwright and the overall play all for one production and we could not be more thrilled!

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QUEENS GIRL IN THE WORLD also garnered Theater J’s first ever review in The New York Times, which was glowing, calling the play a “sweet spirited solo show…portray[ed] with star quality brilliance.” The play was commissioned and developed through our unique Locally Grown Festival, which focuses on providing support to local playwrights to foster new work.

Our new Artistic Director, Adam Immerwahr, started in December. He is hard at work programming our next season, which will be announced on April 3rd at the Theater J benefit – so mark your calendars!

Our next production, an adaptation of famed Israeli author David Grossman’s FALLING OUT OF TIME, is going to be an incredible and unique theatrical experience. After losing his son in the Israel-Lebanon conflict, Grossman was moved to write this stunning masterpiece about loss, solace, and hope. To more deeply engage our audiences with the work, we have planned two important events:
• On March 20, A Conversation with David Grossman, Azar Nafisi (author of READING LOLITA IN TEHRAN) and Leon Wieseltier about “The Freedom of the Writer and the Cruelties of History”
• On March 17, Pre- and post-show conversations with The Parent’s Circle, an organization that unites bereaved Israeli and Palestinian parents in promoting reconciliation.

We are proud to continue to bring Israeli art to DC audiences and to use it as a springboard for these important and inspiring conversations.

Hope to see you at the theater soon!

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Season Planning — An Insider’s Look

Yikes–we’ve gone ahead and announced our 2015-2016 Season and have totally neglected to blog about it!

I’m going to remedy that by sharing a show-by-show account of what excites me about each production and insights into why these 6 plays (plus musical revue) ended up in our line up.

Illustrations by Donald Ely

Illustrations by Donald Ely

The process of season planning is equal parts thrilling and daunting. We start with a clean slate; key questions (what do we want to talk about next year? what themes do we want to address?); and a list of titles. These may be plays we read a month earlier or three years ago–but they are all stories that stuck with us, that resonated then and now as the stories we should be telling. And then we open up the conversation. At Theater J that means discussing the plays with staff and our committee of volunteer readers, mostly members of our smart and intuitive Theater J council. And the list gets shorter, and shorter, and then sometimes longer again, and then shorter, and shorter. And then we do a very fancy high-tech layout of post-it notes with plays written on them stuck to one of our office doors. Super sophisticated.

Door

This is THE door, without any post-it notes (we wouldn’t want to give away too many industry secrets.)

Okay, so not very sophisticated, but it works. The post-it notes start to resemble a calendar. Dates are tweaked and negotiated. We step back and consider balance. How many larger cast shows do we have? Which ones will need a longer load in period? Which are likely to exist in a world that is more physically spare? How about gender parity of the mix? Representation of diverse voices and playwrights of color? Ratio of comedy to drama? And when we have a line-up that feels like the right mix of plays we are passionate about, we start conversations with agents and publishers. Samuel French and Dramatists Play Service are the two largest licensing agencies, so for published plays the conversation continues there. And finally, when contracts are signed and rights are negotiated, we have a season. Simple, right? Not always, but…

On to next season!

We start the year with:

QueensGirl_Poster_D Continue reading