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This Groupon gets you one subscription to the fall season at Theater J, the “premier theater for premieres,” according to The New York Times. That’s five powerful plays ($20 per show) at the progressive Jewish theater that has premiered works by Joyce Carol Oates, Ariel Dorfman, and Robert Brustein. Last year the theater won the Mayor’s Arts Award for Excellence in an Artistic Discipline; this year a Theater J production won the 2009 Helen Hayes Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play; next year the theater will win the 2010 Helen Hayes Charles MacArthur Samuel L. Jackson Award for Best Use of Juggling as a Narrative Device.
Performing in the 236-seat Aaron & Cecile Goldman Theater in the Dupont Circle neighborhood, Theater J produces thought-provoking, passionate, and entertaining plays that celebrate the urban voice and social vision of Jewish culture. Each show runs for four to six weeks, and the subscription is good for Wednesday and Thursday performances—so that’s eight to 12 dates to choose from. You get one ticket to each of the following five shows:
- Lost in Yonkers by Neil Simon: In a remarkable coming-of-age story that won four Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize, two brothers are left to fend for themselves in a dysfunctional household with their formidable immigrant grandmother, sweet but simple-minded aunt, and a hoodlum of an uncle. This classic American tale is comic and poignant.
- New Jerusalem by David Ives: In this witty theological drama, philosopher and accused apostate Baruch de Spinoza faces excommunication from the Jewish community. “Mr. Ives’s humor has always mixed the cerebral with the silly… his daring leap into metaphysics is… an engrossing primer on Spinoza’s radical thinking,” says Charles Isherwood of The New York Times
- The Four of Us by Itamar Moses: When Ben’s first novel vaults him into literary stardom, his best friend David, a struggling playwright, is thrilled for his newfound success…or is he? This poignant play explores the nature of friendship, memory, and what happens when your dreams come true—for your best friend.
- Zero Hour by Jim Brochu: Channeling Zero Mostel’s wild moods, crazy humor, and righteous anger, Jim Brochu reintroduces audiences to this funny, fantastically contrary man whose penchant for truth-telling has been sorely missed.
- Mikveh by Hadar Galron: Inside the secretive world of the ritual bath, eight women’s stories unfold in this sensitive depiction of religious observance and evolving feminist consciousness. A knowledgeable examination of traditions and ritual, this hit Israeli play explores the ever-evolving position of women in Israeli society.
The New York Times and The Washington Post usually review Theater J’s performances individually (like this review). Here’s what they said about the place in general: > * What theater could play host to all these well-connected productions? Of all places, Theater J, an intimate 236-seat space at the D.C. Jewish Community Center. Despite a staff of just seven and a yearly budget of less than $1 million, Theater J and Ari Roth, its artistic director, offer a rare mix of professional polish, thoughtful dramaturgy and nervy experimentation – all in a spot just far enough off the New York radar for a playwright to relax. – Trey Graham, The New York Times > * In its first 10 years, Theater J, the professional theater group of the D.C. Jewish Community Center, has developed a solid reputation for producing thought-provoking plays. What’s more, the quality of the offerings seems to get better and better under Artistic Director Ari Roth. – Brad Hathaway, The Washington Post
- Theater J is a great place right in the center of it all…close to some yummy food on 17th. And their line up of shows, actors…tends to be top notch. – punkiepeters, The Washington Post reader
- I will definitely be going back to Theater J because I think it’s a nice place that puts on quality shows for very little money. – Shelagh P., Yelp
- Theater J: a GEM. – Michael S., Yelp