Arlene and Robert Kogod New Play Development Program

Since its establishment in 1990, Theater J has presented over 40 world premiere productions and/or English language premieres, all of which included extensive workshop development and occasional long-term residencies for our playwrights, involving a number of collaborative partnerships, generating significant media attention.

Shows developed at Theater J often go on to receive follow-up productions across the country and artists with whom we have worked go on to make an impact on the theatrical world long after they leave DC.

For example, Stefanie Zadravec’s gripping play Honey Brown Eyes, set in Bosnia during the Balkan War, won the 2009 Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play at the 25th Annual Helen Hayes Awards and was published in American Theatre Magazine.  It's gone on to productions at The Working Theatre Off-Broadway and in smaller venues throughout the country. Theodore Bikel’s Sholom Aleichem: Laughter Through Tears, a one-man, three-musician musical which premiered at Theater J in 2008, went on to a successful run at the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene at Baruch Performing Arts Center in NY where Bikel was nominated for a 2010 Drama Desk Award for Solo Performance by an Actor. Subsequently, it has been produced in Los Angeles, Toronto, and toured throughout Eastern Europe. 

Similarly, two recent world premiere productions by New York playwright Sam Forman (The Moscows of Nantucket and The Rise and Fall of Annie Hall) have gone onto regional productions in New England and Off-Off-Broadway, while Forman himself has gone onto prominence as a writer for the critically acclaimed television series House of Cards. Judy Gold’s Mommy Queerest, recently re-titled The Judy Show, and had an extended run at the DR2 space Off-Broadway and most recently at The Geffen Theatre in Los Angeles.  Neena Beber's world premiere Jump/Cut, a co-production with Woolly Mammoth Theatre went on to a critically acclaimed run at The Women's Project in New York and has been produced across the country. 

Most recently, Theater J’s Locally Grown: Community Supported Art Festival, a new play development initiative that commissions and then produces plays by local playwrights has been called “quite simply one of the most important and worthwhile projects that any local theater has adopted, in the cause of making this a more hospitable city for playwriting talent” by The Washington Post.

Playwrights who have participated in Locally Grown have seen their plays move on to be named Semi-Finalists for the Eugene O’Neill Playwriting Conference and to Off-broadway productions.

Theater J Artistic Director, Ari Roth, himself an award-winning playwright who takes an active role in the dramaturgical development of all plays developed at Theater J, has seen his world premiere, The Wolf in Peter, a sequel to his widely-produced Born Guilty, adapted from a book of interviews with children of Nazis, go on to be produced in Atlanta, Berlin, and extensive workshop presentations at Manhattan Theatre Club and the Epic Theatre Ensemble.

Additionally, Theater J has a long history of working with Israeli playwrights to develop the English-language premieres of their work, working with Boaz Goan on the English-language premiere of Boged (Traitor): An Enemy of the People, Hillel Milepunkt’s The Accident, Hadar Galron's Mikveh, with multiple premieres over the years from Motti Lerner (Passing The Love of Women, Pangs of The Messiah, Benedictus, and the upcoming 2014 premiere of The Admission).

Theater J is also proud of its rich working relationships with playwrights of distinction who treasure the highly professional, intimate, and supportive environment. Notable writers who have had new work premiered at Theater J include Robert Brustein (Spring Forward/Fall Back, 2006), Richard Greenberg (Bal Masque, 2006), Ariel Dorfman (Picasso’s Closet, 2006), Joyce Carol Oates (The Tattooed Girl, 2007), Mark Medoff (Tommy J and Sally, 2002), and Australia’s Thomas Keneally (Either Or, 2007).

Additionally, Theater J has a history of important second productions that bring plays to the attention of the theatrical world beyond their world-premieres, such as the production of Anna Ziegler’s Photograph 51, first produced by Active Cultures Theater in Maryland and which has now gone on to be produced by 10 different theaters. Other second productions that included significant revisions include Jacquelyn Reingold’s String Fever in 2005, Kate Fodor’s Hannah and Martin in 2005, Jennifer Maisel’s The Last Seder in 2003, and The Mad Dancers by Yehuda Hyman, co-directed by Liz Lerman.

Theater J is dedicated to the nurturing and production of new work, and we take pleasure in introducing new plays and playwrights to the nation.

Honey Brown Eyes, October 22 - November 30, 2008. A World Premiere by Stefanie Zadravec. L-R: Barbara Rappaport and Joel Reuben Ganz. Photo by Stan Barouh

The Rise and Fall of Annie Hall, April 15 – May 24, 2009. A World premiere by Sam Forman. L-R: Josh Lefkowitz and Alexander Strain. Photo by Stan Barouh

Mikveh, May 5 –June 5, 2010. A World Premiere by Hadar Galron. L-R: Carla Briscoe, Rachel Condliffe, Sarah Marshall. Photo by Stan Barouh

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