The Soul of the American Actor

INTERVIEWS with ARTISTS

BEN VEREEN

JEANINE TESORI

PSALMAYENE 24

SYLVIA MCNAIR

MICHAEL McELROY

DEIDRE KINAHAN

BOB ARI

PAUL TAZEWELL

PATRICIA ROZARIO

NANCY RHODES

MAIA DANZIGER

EARL “PEANUTT” MONTGOMERY

WILLIE RUFF

DENNIS D’AMICO

GRACE CACHOCHA

KAREN SAILLANT

JENNIFER HORNE

JEANIE THOMPSON

ROBERT PERRY

WAYNE SIDES

JAMIE LEE McMAHAN

“You are led through your lifetime by the inner learning creature, the playful spiritual being that is your real self.”
– Richard Bach

“Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.”
– Wilma Rudolph

“Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.”
– William Faulkner


Articles

Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company

Black Theatre United

Mabou Mines

Theater J

Pangea World Theater

Round House Theatre

Bucks County Playhouse

Charleston Stage

Maryland Ensemble Theatre

Chesapeake Shakespeare Company

PURE Theatre Company

Ronald Rand’s “CREATE! How Extraordinary People Live to Create and Create to Live”

Virginia Stage Company

Constellation Theatre Company

League of Professional Theatre Women

Maryland Hall

BlackRock Center for the Arts

Great American Songbook Foundation & Academy

Kennedy Center REACH

Inter Act Art Theatre

“Grand Ball in the Belle Epoch” – Edwardian Period Style Salon

“To flourish, society depends on a strong cultural heritage as well as innovation. The challenge is to breathe new life into the arts. Creativity is at the heart of every successful nation. It finds expression in great visual art, wonderful music, fabulous performances, stunning writing, gritty new productions and countless other media. Giving form to our innate human creativity is what defines us to ourselves and the world.
This is what the arts have always done. The lasting value and evidence of a civilization are its artistic output and the ingenuity that comes from applying creativity to the whole range of human endeavor. What is education if it doesn't teach our children to think creatively and innovatively? What use is a robust economy unless it is within an innovative country that can attract and stimulate the world? How can good governance exist without a population that is engaged, educated and able to form its own opinions?”  Excerpt from an essay, “Reviving a creative nation,”
 – by Cate Blanchett and Julianne Schultz, April 16, 2008, For the Creative Australia Stream at the 2020 Summit

“There is a difference between passive goodness and active goodness, which is, in my opinion, the giving of one's time and energy in the alleviation of pain and suffering. It entails going out, finding and helping those in suffering and danger and not merely in leading an exemplary life in a purely passive way of doing no wrong."
- Nicholas Winton

Theater J

Theater J, located in the heart of Washington, DC, is the nation’s pre-eminent professional Jewish theater. Founded in 1990 as a program of the EDCJCC, Theater J began with a series of staged readings and in 1991 produced its first plays, under the leadership of founding Artistic Director Martin Blank. Theater J’s initial home was a forty-seat black box theater at 1836 Jefferson Place, NW, the original home of the EDCJCC. In 1993, Artistic Director Randye Hoeflich took the helm, producing the first full season and preparing the theater to move to a larger, permanent home. In 1997, the DCJCC moved into its current space, the Irwin P. Edlavitch Building, at 1529 Sixteenth Street, NW, which housed a newly built 238-seat proscenium theater.

The Edlavitch DC Jewish Community Center, home to Theater J.

When we had the opportunity to talk with Theater J’s Artistic Director Adam Immerwahr. he told us: “Theater J is always striving to present the best of Jewish theater concerning Jewish culture and heritage that is thought-provoking, joyful and engages the audience. Now more than ever, it’s critical that we tell stories of our history and learn from lessons of the past and we need plays that teach us resilience.” 

Immerwahr said: “Theater J aspires to produce exciting plays that connect with Jewish ideas and values and what excites me the most is discovering forgotten plays. The Jewish Queen Lear,” for example, is a masterpiece of the Yiddish theater and I’m thrilled to be able to bring it to the stage for Washington, DC audiences. The production is the first full production of the Yiddish Theater Lab. Theater J’s new initiative is dedicated to preserving and reviving the forgotten literature of the Yiddish Theater. With the Lab, directors and playwrights will uncover and re-interpret nearly-forgotten Yiddish classics in new English language readings, workshops, commissions, and eventually productions.” 

“Yentl” at Theater J. (Top row, L. to R.): Brandon McCoy, Amy McWilliams, Mark Bergman, Lindsay Elizabeth Williams, and Shane O’Loughlin. (Bottom row L. to R): Aaron Bliden, Sara Dabney Tisdale, Shanta Parasuraman, Judith Ingber, and Joe Brack.

He continued saying: “It is vital that Theater J’s plays illuminate and examine the ethical questions of our time, bringing forth inter-cultural experiences that parallel our own and present the changing landscape of Jewish identity.”

“Everything Is Illuminated” at Theater J (L.- R.) Billy Finn, Eric Hissom, and Alex Alferov in rehearsal for at Theater Photo: Laurie Levy-Page).

He went on to say: “I’m also very excited about the renovation of the EDCJCC, and theatergoers will see a renewed and refreshed theater with new seats, lighting, carpet and much more modernized when the historic building reopens. As far as the selection of the theatrical season, I am the ultimate decision maker, but there is a Theater J Advisory Council, Literary Director and Associate Producer that I work with each year.”

“To help support Theater J, there is an innovative method called “Free Refills,” which allows subscribers to come back to a show they love as many times as they want. Theater J also believes access to art is a right, not a privilege and offers a “Passports Free Ticket Program” that is designed to provide meaningful access to art to critically underserved communities.” 

“And every season, Theater J provides over four-hundred free tickets to clients of homeless and women’s shelters, low-income senior citizens, and students throughout the D.C. metro area. My goal as Artistic Director is to offer our Theater J patrons, an extraordinary experience in an intimate setting and now with anti-semitism on the rise, it’s paramount to show how we need to understand our differences and empathize with “the other.” Most importantly, I hope all the plays that are presented at Theater J will get audiences ‘thinking and open to new conversations.’”

Susan Rome as Louise Nevelson in Edward Albee’s “Occupant” at Theater J. (Photo: C. Stanley Photography, courtesy: Theater J).

Theater J’s on-going initiative, Yiddish Theater Lab, is dedicated to preserving and reviving the forgotten literature of the Yiddish Theater. Join us as directors and playwrights uncover and re-interpret nearly forgotten Yiddish classics in new English language readings, workshops, commissions, and eventually productions. The Yiddish Theater Lab is supported by The Marinus and Minna B. Koster Foundation, Natalie Wexler and James Feldman, and The Leshowitz Family Foundation, Terry Singer.

June 2020 Readings include “Miriam” by Alix Sobler, freely adapted from Peretz Hirschbein’s “Miryam,” directed by Laley Lippard, June 7th at 5:00 PM, live on Zoom, or available to stream until June 10 at midnight. Theater J commissioned Alix Sobler to write this adaptation in the first year of the Yiddish Theater Lab, during the 2017-2018 season. Over the past two years, Theater J has supported the development of this play through numerous conversations and by hosting a closed reading of an early draft of the play in the spring of 2018. “Miriam” is already garnering national attention, having been chosen as a finalist for the 2019 O’Neill Festival.

Second in their Yiddish Theater Lab series is “One of Those” by Paula Prilutski, adapted and translated by Allen Lewis Rickman, directed by Kevin Place, June 18th at 5:30 PM, live on Zoom, or available to stream until June 21 at midnight. “One of Those” is a forgotten gem of the Yiddish Theater, recently given new life through Allen Lewis Rickman’s beautiful adaptation and translation which was presented as a staged reading by YIVO in May of 2018. Without a doubt, Prilutski’s epic, proto-feminist drama was ahead of its time when she wrote it in 1912. We feel strongly that it still has something to say about independent women living in an un-free world today.

2019-2020 Reading Series included “A Hidden Corner,” by Perest Hirschbein, translated by David S. Lifson, directed by Brendon Fox, February 3, 2020.

Recent productions include  “The Pianist of Willesden Lane” featuring Mona Golabek, “Actually,” Lanford Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize winning play “Talley’s Folly,” and Jacob Gordin’s “The Jewish Queen Lear, “ directed by Theater J’s Artistic Director Adam Immerwahr.

Theater J’s ZOOM classes include: “Inside the Actor’s Process with Naomi Jacobson; “The Actor’s Approach to Torah” with Tyler Herman, “The Actor’s Art of Communication and Persuasion” with Paul Morella, “Writing Your Life Story” with Caleen Sinnette Jennings, “The Business of Show Business” with Theater J Managing Director, Jojo Ruf; and “Beyond the Script” with Theater J Artistic Director, Adam Immerwahr.

Theater J has been honored with the Washington D.C. Mayor’s Arts Award for Excellence in an Artistic Discipline, over seventy Helen Hayes nominations and nine Helen Hayes Awards. Notable productions include: Dan O’Brien’s “The Body of an American”, winner of the 2014 Horton Foote Prize for Outstanding New American Play; “Golda’s Balcony;” the world-premiere of Caleen Sinnette Jennings’ “Queens Girl in the World;”and Tony Kushner’s The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures.” For info: Theater J is located at 1529 16th Street, NW Washington, DC 20036, (202) 777-3210, www.theaterj.org

Tovah Feldshuh as Golda Meir in “Golda’s Balcony” at Theater J.


 

 


"It is a law of life that man cannot live for himself alone. Extreme individualism is insanity. The world's problems are also our personal problems. Health is achieved through maintaining our personal truth in a balanced relation of love to the rest of the world. No expression is more emblematic of this relation than the creative act which we call art. No art by its very constitution typifies the social nature of that creative act more than the theatre. The theatre, to be fully understood and appreciated, must be seen as a manifestation of this process of interchange between society and the individual. It must be judged as a continuous development of groups of individuals within society, a development which becomes richer, acquires greater force and value as it grows with the society in which it originates. Only in this way can the theatre nourish us.  - Harold Clurman

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