Locally Grown Initiative 2012 - 2013

Building on the success of last season’s inaugural Locally Grown: Community Supported Art Festival, Theater J continues its celebration of DC's burgeoning playwriting community with an expanded Locally Grown Festival and new Locally Grown Year-Round Initiative.

The year round initiative includes:

  • Fully staged premieres of Ari Roth’s Andy and The Shadows (April 3 - May 5) and Jacqueline E. Lawton’s The Hampton Years (May 29 - June 30)

  • Workshop readings of newly-minted work by a new crop of DC-based playwrights including Randy Baker, Allyson Currin, DW Gregory, Liz Maestri, Malcolm Pelles (postponed) and Renee Calarco.  (More information and reserve seats below)

  • Finally, two other local playwrights will collaborate with Theater J during the 2012–2013 season as part of Locally Grown Year-Round Initiative; Helen Hayes Award™ winner Norman Allen, whose new adaptation of George Elliot’s novel Daniel Deronda (recipient of a DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities grant) will be read in Theater J's Tea@2 Series this October; and veteran scribe Ernie Joselovitz, whose work will be presented in a Tea@2 Reading in April 2013.

The Return to Latin

by Allyson Currin

Monday, April 15 at 7:30 pm   Reserve Tickets
In the Aaron & Cecile Goldman Theater, Washington DCJCC

The idea for Allyson Currin’s play, provisionally titled The Return to Latin came from a discussion hosted by Arena Stage called “Women of a Certain Age.” Currin describes the result of the discussion, sharing, “I was tasked, privately, at the end of the discussion, by three of the best actors I know…to write a play for women in their fifties as those women really are. Not caregivers or grandmothers or dowagers or any tired stereotypes, but real women, who are smart, sexy and powerful…There are so few plays that give women in their fifties (and beyond) real and complicated journeys. This play, while comic, will not shy away from the small humiliations embedded in women’s journeys as they age, and the very real fear that, in middle age, a woman’s ‘chance’ might have passed her by.”

Allyson Currin is the author of over twenty plays, several of which have been honored by the Helen Hayes Awards, DC Theatre Scene, and the Mary Goldwater Award from the Theatre Lobby of Washington, DC. She has also been singled out for numerous honors from the Washington Theatre Festival of New Plays. Recently produced works include Hercules in Russia at Doorway Arts Ensemble; Treadwell: Bright and Dark, commissioned and premiered by the American Century Theatre; and The Dancing Princesses, a world premiere musical for young audiences produced at Imagination Stage in the 2009–10 season and named  DC Theatre Scene's Audience Choice Pick for Best Family Show. She has written original multi-media pieces for the classical music company Musica Aperta that have been performed at The Embassy of Spain, The Shakespeare Theatre, and Strathmore Arts Center. She has also written original theater pieces about Restoration women poets and dramatists that were featured at The National Museum for Women in the Arts.



House Beautiful
by Liz Maestri

Monday, May 6 at 7:30 pm  Reserve Tickets
In the Hyman S. and Freda Bernstein Library, Washington DCJCC

Maestri's current one-act in development, House Beautiful, demonstrates her clear sense of what interests her as a playwright.  “My work is often influenced by a fascination with things supernatural and found in nature.”  She was impressed by last year’s Locally Grown festival, remarking “Locally Grown is an important, exciting, and highly visible program…DC is my home, and I’m deeply connected to the city in most ways, so I look forward to becoming a more active player in my artistic home-base.”

Liz Maestri represents the next generation of playwrights that Theater J looks forward to cultivating. Maestri studied playwriting with the “24 With 5” Collective at New Dramatists in NY, and received her B.A. in Theater from the University of Maryland (College Park Scholars in the Arts; Theatre Patrons Award winner). Liz’s plays include Owl Moon, (world premiere Taffety Punk Theatre Company); Somersaulting (workshop presentation at The Kennedy Center Page-to-Stage and The Artists’ Bloc Downtown Series); Tinderbox (ReActs series/Forum Theatre); Fallbeil (Great Plains Theatre Conference, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities Young Artist Program grant); and multi-disciplinary collaborations The Pressure Cooker for the 2012 Source Festival (Creative Communities Fund) and Genesis with E.M.P. Collective.



The Monastery
by Randy Baker

Monday, May 20 at 7:30 pm  Reserve Tickets
In the Aaron & Cecile Goldman Theater, Washington DCJCC

Through the Locally Grown Festival, Baker will be developing a play called The Monastery. He describes the piece as an exploration of “a character who is immortal but cursed with forgetfulness, never to remember her past lives. Now she’s in our era and destruction—both personal and literal—follows her wherever she goes.” He goes on to place the piece into the context of Theater J, stating “like many Theater J plays, it explores themes of divinity in the modern era, but no matter how large the questions become, the play never loses sight of the fact that it is about characters and conflicts and relationships.”

Randy Baker began his theatrical career at Theater J almost fifteen years ago. Since then, he and Jenny McConnell Frederick founded Rorshach Theatre, where he remains a Co-Artistic Director. Randy’s plays include Forgotten Kingdoms, The Burning Road, The First Disobedience and Dream Sailors. His work has been produced at Rorschach Theatre, Source Theatre, Forum Theatre (re)acts, Extreme Exchange, Three Leaches Theatre (Colorado), George Washington University and The National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts. He has had readings and workshops at the National New Play Network, Inkwell Theatre, Theater J, The Arts Club of Washington, Wordsmyth Theater, Primary Stages, American University, Theater Alliance and Rorschach Theatre.  


A Grand Design
by DW Gregory

Monday, June 10 at 7:30 pm    Reserve Tickets
In the Aaron & Cecile Goldman Theater, Washington DCJCC

The piece that Gregory will be developing with Theater J is entitled A Grand Design, a three-actor piece inspired in part by the DC sniper shootings a decade ago. It is a dark comedy that, as Gregory puts it, “wrestles with the tradeoffs we make between security and satisfaction, and how those calculations are thrown into disarray when the shooting starts.”  Discussing what drew her to work with Theater J, Gregory explains, “I started writing plays in the late ‘80s in Rochester, NY, and one of my inspirations was a playwright named Ari Roth [Theater J’s current Artistic Director], whose play Oh the Innocents was featured in a festival at GEVA Theatre Center. So it would be about coming full circle, for me.”

D.W. Gregory writes in a variety of styles and genres, from historical drama to screwball comedy, but a recurring theme is the exploration of political issues through a personal lens. The New York Times called her “a playwright with a talent to enlighten and provoke” for her most produced play, Radium Girls (Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey), about dial painters poisoned on the job in the 1920s. A resident playwright at New Jersey Rep, she received a Pulitzer nomination for the Rep’s production of The Good Daughter. Other plays include The Good Girl Is Gone (Playwrights Theatre); October 1962 (NJ Rep); and Molumby’s Million (Iron Age Theatre Co.), a comedy about the boxer Jack Dempsey, which was nominated for the 2011 Barrymore Award for Outstanding New Play by the Theatre Alliance of Philadelphia. Ms. Gregory is also a founding member of the Playwrights Gymnasium, a process-oriented workshop based in Washington, DC.


GBoro  (Working Title)
by Malcolm Pelles

In the Aaron & Cecile Goldman Theater, Washington DCJCC

The play which Pelles plans to develop with Theater J “centers on the Greensboro Massacre, an event in 1979 where American Nazis and Ku Klux Klansmen opened fire on Black and Jewish industrial workers and members of the Communist Worker’s party that were leading an anti-Klan rally.” He goes on to note that, “My parents are survivors of the massacre, and by dramatizing this piece of my family history I hope to inspire audiences to contemplate love, justice and sacrifice.”  He feels that this personal story is particularly well-suited to Theater J because, “with past productions like Waiting for Lefty/Still Waiting, Red Diaper Baby, and Something You Did,
Theater J is an ideal place to create a play that examines this history.”

Malcolm Pelles is a playwright and filmmaker.  His plays have been performed in Washington, DC at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Rorschach Theatre, Warehouse Theater and Theater J; and in New York City at such places as the Atlantic Theater. He earned an MFA degree in dramatic writing from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.  

People of the Book
by Renee Calarco

Monday, June 24 at 7:30 pm  Reserve Tickets
In the Aaron & Cecile Goldman Theater, Washington DCJCC

A New Play from the author of The Religion Thing
Directed by Allison Stockman

Calarco’s play in development, People of the Book, asks us to consider how far we would go to believe a story that’s too good to be true. Partially inspired by the story of Rabbi Menachem Youlus—the self-dubbed “Jewish Indiana Jones”—the play goes to “some uncomfortable places,” according to Calarco.  “We all yearn for survival stories,” she says, “and I’m obsessed with the stories that we collect and re-tell and believe—beyond the point of reason. It’s a theme that I explored a bit in The Religion Thing, too, and I’m so grateful to Theater J for continuing to develop my work.”

Renee Calarco is a playwright, teacher and performer. Her plays include The Religion Thing (2013 nominee for the Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play), Short Order Stories (2007 recipient of  the Charles MacArthur Award), The Mating of Angela Weiss, Keepers of the Western Door, Bleed, First Stop: Niagara Falls, and If You Give a Cat a Cupcake. Her 10-minute play Warriors was published by One Act Play Depot in 2010.

Her plays have been produced, developed, and commissioned by Theater J, Charter Theater, Geva Theatre, Project Y, Adventure Theatre, Doorway Arts Ensemble, Pinky Swear Productions, and the Source Theatre Festival. She teaches playwriting and comedy improv at The Theatre Lab, and playwriting at George Washington University. Renee is a member of The Dramatists Guild of America and a licensed professional tour guide.


By George Eliot, Adapted by Norman Allen
Friday, October 19 at 2:00 pm
In the Hyman S. and Freda Bernstein Library
Tickets $5 at theaterj.org



By Ernie Joselovitz
Friday, April 19 at 2:00 pm
In the Hyman S. and Freda Bernstein Library
Tickets $5 at theaterj.org