The Washington Post

May 2, 2006
The J Stands for Family For the '06-'07 Season
Theater to Focus On Relationships,
And Will Premiere Three New Works
By Jane Horwitz

Theater J's upcoming season will explore the family, where "the emotional pay dirt in our lives is," says Artistic Director Ari Roth.

"One of the staples of the American theater is the father-son play, from 'The Jazz Singer' on," he notes, "and I have never produced one here." That void will be filled with the world premiere of "Spring Forward/Fall Back" (Oct. 19-Nov. 26) by celebrated theater critic, scholar, director and playwright Robert Brustein.

"It is a father-son drama told from the point of view of the aging father, [an orchestra conductor] who remembers himself as a son, but spends two-thirds of the play as the father, looking back with a kind of elegiac fondness and regret," says Roth. Wes Savick will direct.

Theater J also will mount concert performances of the comic klezmer musical "Shlemiel the First" (Oct. 8-13), adapted by Brustein from the play by Isaac Bashevis Singer, with music by Hankus Netsky and Zalmen Mlotek and lyrics by Arnold Weinstein. Nick Olcott will direct.

While here, Brustein will give a Nov. 7 lecture on "Drama as Secular Religion."

Laura Shaine Cunningham has adapted for the stage her novel "Sleeping Arrangements" (Jan. 9-Feb. 18, 2007), about an orphan who is looked after by her two eccentric uncles. Halo Wines will play her grandmother and Miriam Silverman, who just appeared in Arena Stage's "Awake and Sing!," will play the young heroine, Lily. Delia Taylor will direct the world premiere.

Sherry Glaser will perform "Family Secrets" (March 7-April 15, 2007), a multi-character solo show written with Greg Howells. The 1993 off-Broadway hit, an autobiographical piece about a contentious, Bronx-bred Jewish family living in Southern California, was just revived in New York, where Bob Balaban staged it.

Thomas Keneally's "Either, Or" (May 2-June 3, 2007) will have its world premiere. "Either, Or," like Keneally's best-known work, "Schindler's List," is about the Holocaust. It delves into the altruistic motives of SS officer Kurt Gerstein (subject of the 2002 film "Amen," based on Rolf Hochhuth's play "The Deputy"), who tried to sabotage the death camps and to get the Vatican to speak out.

Roth cites Keneally's observation: "I don't believe that any tale more graphically depicts the crisis into which genuinely decent people are thrown in tyrannies."


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