History of Theater J


“Jewish theaters do exist around the country, perhaps most prominently Theater J in Washington, D.C.” – Jweekly.com

Theater J was founded in 1990 by Martin Blank as the professional theater of the Washington DC Jewish Community Center (DC JCC), which was incorporated as a non-profit in 1985.  During its first years as a 50-seat theater located in the DC JCC's rented townhouse, Theater J was committed to creating innovative Jewish theater, producing two to three plays a year. 

In 1993, Randye Hoeflich took over as Artistic Director. During her tenure, Theater J moved from the small townhouse basement to the state-of-the-art Aaron and Cecile Goldman Theater in the DC JCC’s new home in the heart of Dupont Circle in 1997. 

In 1998, the DC JCC appointed Ari Roth as Artistic Director to bring a new vision and direction to Theater J. Under Roth’s guidance, the theater increased its subscriber base dramatically, and attracted broader audiences. During the 18 years he served as Artistic Director, the theater grew to produce six to eight plays a year and instituted such highly regarded programs as the Voices from a Changing Middle East Festival, the Locally Grown: Community Supported Art Festival, the Beyond-the-Stage programming and many other initiatives. 

Now a 240-seat Equity theater in the renovated historic JCC building at 16th and Q Streets in Northwest D.C., Theater J presents six to eight mainstage productions a year along with robust audience engagement, new play development and community programs. 

Theater J has been nominated for a total of 61 Helen Hayes Awards and is the recipient of 5 Theater Lobby awards as well as the 2008 Mayor’s Arts Award for Excellence. Considered the most prominent Jewish theater in North America and a dedicated nurturer of new plays, Theater J has become “. . . a nationally recognized cornerstone of the Washington theater scene.” (Moment Magazine)

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