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Theater J Launches Canon-Expanding New-Play Program

The program will commission 7 Jewish playwrights of color in an effort to ‘correct and broaden’ conceptions of Jewishness onstage.

WASHINGTON, D.C.: Theater J has announced the new program Expanding the Canon to commission seven racially and ethnically diverse Jewish writers to create new full-length plays that thematically and visually center diverse Jewish narratives. The program is for Jews of color, multiracial and multiethnic Jews, and Mizrahi and Sephardic Jews who seek to correct and broaden the historically limited portrayals of Jewishness onstage. Playwrights will be identified through a search process and online submission process.

Each writer will receive a $10,000 commission to create a new play over two and a half years and will have access to a $5,000 developmental budget that can be used for readings, workshops, research, and travel. The commission program is funded in part by grants from the Covenant Foundation.

“Being from a mixed family of Ashkenazi and Mexican Syrian Jewish descent, I have always understood the Jewish experience to be more vibrant and diverse than the majority of Jewish playwriting,” managing director David Lloyd Olson said in a statement. “We are grateful for the support of the Covenant Foundation, whose funding will help us add layers to the portrait of Jewishness by commissioning plays that center the multiracial and multiethnic stories that have always been, and will continue to be, a part of the Jewish experience.”

The program will begin in August 2022 with a three-day Beit Midrash (or study hall) led by former U.S. Representative and prayer leader Sabrina Sojourner, which will cover Jewish life, thought, history, and literature and give playwrights access to Jewish texts. Throughout the commission process, writers will meet monthly to learn, share additional resources, and workshop written material. The program is spearheaded by Theater J artistic director Adam Immerwahr.

Applications are due March 15.

Theater J celebrates, explores, and struggles with the complexities and nuances of both the Jewish experience and the universal human condition and is the nation’s largest Jewish theatre. Theater J is is a program of the Edlavitch DCJCC.

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