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Theater J Launches EXPANDING THE CANON: A Commission Program For Racially And Ethnically Diverse Jewish Playwrights

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The program will commission seven Jewish writers to create new full-length plays that thematically and visually center diverse Jewish narratives.

Theater J Launches EXPANDING THE CANON: A Commission Program For Racially And Ethnically Diverse Jewish Playwrights

Theater J, the nation's largest and most prominent Jewish theater, announces an exciting new program, "Expanding the Canon" which will commission seven extraordinary racially and ethnically diverse Jewish writers to create new full-length plays that thematically and visually center diverse Jewish narratives.

This program is for Jews of Color, Multi Racial/Multi Ethnic Jews, and Mizrachi (Middle Eastern and North African) and Sephardic (Iberian) Jews who seek to correct and broaden the historically limited portrayals of Jewishness on stages in the US and around the world. Playwrights will be identified through both a search process and a submission process, which can be found on Theater J's website. Expanding the Canon is made possible in large part by funds granted by The Covenant Foundation.

Each writer will receive a $10,000 commission to create a new play over two and a half years; each will also have access to a $5,000 developmental budget that can be used for readings, workshops, research, and travel.

The program will kick off in August 2022 with a three-day intensive "Beit Midrash" led by Rosh Beit Sabrina Sojourner, a Shaliakh Tzibur and nationally recognized Jewish leader. They will guide the cohort of commissioned writers through a curriculum covering Jewish life, thought, history, and literature. This intensive learning process will give playwrights access to texts and understandings of Jewish thought and tradition that will inspire them as they begin to craft their plays. Throughout the commission, writers will meet monthly to continue to learn, share additional resources and workshop written material. "I'm thrilled to be part of "Expanding the Canon," says Sojourner, "to be part of an organization committed to supporting, nurturing, and enhancing connections between Jewish artists of color. Most importantly, we are all looking forward to the stories they will bring to the larger Jewish community and the world."

Excerpts of the finished scripts will be shared in a final gathering in December 2024. All commissioned scripts will be strongly considered for Theater J mainstage productions.

This new initiative is spearheaded by Theater J's Artistic Director, Adam Immerwahr, who adds: "Jewish theater is thriving all over this country. And yet so much of that theater continues to center the stories of white Ashkenazi Jews, instead of presenting the true image of Jewishness in all of its multi-ethnic, multi-cultural diversity. Expanding the Canon seeks to remedy that by commissioning seven amazing playwrights to create a new canon of Jewish theater for our century."

"I am beyond excited about this project!" states Edlavitch DC JCC CEO Dava Schub. "As the JCC in our nation's capital, and with the support of the Covenant Foundation, we are poised to expand the narrative of Jewish stories being told on stages across the country and create space for new extraordinary storytellers to be seen, celebrated and supported through this three year commission process."

Theater J's Managing Director David Lloyd Olson adds, "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. 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 multi-racial and multi-ethnic stories that have always been and will continue to be a part of the Jewish experience."

Applications are due March 15, 2022. For more information about the Expanding the Canon initiative and for details on how to apply, please visit https://theaterj.org/expandingthecanon/

Theater J is a program of the Edlavitch DCJCC. Theater J performs at the Aaron & Cecile Goldman Theater, located at 1529 Sixteenth Street NW, Washington, DC, four blocks east of Dupont Circle. For more information about Theater J, contact their ticket office at: 202.777.3210 or go to their website at: www.theaterj.org.


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