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 AJT Newsletter January 2014

Dear Friends: 

As 2014 emerges, change is in the air and The Association for Jewish Theatre is actively working to understand these changes for our AJT members. We are assessing the impacts of Jewish culture and the arts in light of the demographic "tectonics" shown in the Pew Study on Jewish American community. Consequently, notions of "Jewish community" are now exploding. We are reflecting on the closing of one of AJT's founding organizations - the Foundation for Jewish Culture. And we are aware of changing revenue streams for non-profit organizations. But perhaps most importantly, we are investigating the meaning of this digital age in a transcultural world, which is creating more complexity for nationalities, ethnicities, gender, race, religion and ideas. Welcome to the (brave?) new world.


But as we ponder the word "brave," let me point some things out: 


• AJT is at its highest membership in 10 years and Jewish theatre and performance are thriving. 


• There are many new Jewish related theatres that have joined including –JCC Theatreworks, JCC of Greater New Haven, CT Jewish Womens Theatre, Santa Monica, CA -Theatre Dybbuk, Los Angeles, CA ShPIeL-Performing Identity, Chicago, IL Seattle Jewish Theater Company, Seattle, WA Jewish Repertory Theatre, Getzville, NY Dark Lady Players, New York, NY ANIKAI Dance Theater, Somerville, MA


• There are more theatre artists and other theatre makers joining AJT and making themselves known in the theatre world.


• From the number of shows and people who attend our members' productions, we are seeing huge audiences in the range of approximately 1million theatre attendees THROUGHOUT THE WORLD to specifically Jewish theatre and performances.


• Jewish and Holocaust theatre and performance are considered important critical disciplines evidenced by: the emerging Holocaust Theatre Archive founded by AJT member, Arnold Mittelman as well as Moti Sandak's (AJT Board Member) Holocaust Theatre Online Collection ; the new Jewish Plays Project by David Winitsky (AJT Member); new critical writing such as Kayla Gordon's piece in the Canadian Theatre Review devoted issue to Jewish theatre; the new Jewish Cultural graduate program at George Washington University headed up by renowned professor Jenna Weissman Joselit. 


Don't think that I am being naive about the state of affairs, but the truth is: things ARE happening. Creative sparks are out there doing challenging, entertaining, beautiful, and transformative theatre and it's happening, it's going to happen, and it cannot be stopped from happening.


Go to our website. Check out the beautiful pictures by the wonderfully talented photographer Elaine Siegel, (who has become our AJT "witness") from our last two AJT Conferences.  These should get you to come to the next Association for Jewish Theatre Conference in Washington, DC on November 9-12. I'm not trying to guilt trip you but, IF YOU MISS THIS ONE YOU WILL SORELY REGRET IT. This is to say, that your presence, with all the other incredible theatre makers, worldwide, will not fail to -- inspire, enthrall, educate, engage, and actualize YOU for your future projects and the future of Jewish theatre and performance!


Warm Regards and L'Hatzlacha,



*Save the Date: The Association for Jewish Theatre’s 33rd annual conference, November 9-12, 2014, in Washington, D.C. with host theatre, Theater J. Keep An Eye Out For Updates!!!

AJT Spotlight -Hank Kimmel

Hank Kimmel has four million dollars that he's trying to give away to Jewish theatre artists and companies and is looking for suggestions about how to do this. Okay, that's not exactly true, but I was trying to grab your attention and actually get you to read about me -- even if you now hate me for not having the money. So, I emigrated from New York to Atlanta in 1996 and soon helped found Working Title Playwrights, an Atlanta-based theatre company dedicated to the development of playwrights and new plays. In Atlanta, I have worked with the marvelous Mira Hirsch (past president of AJT), who produced a delightful collection of short plays strangely called Hank Kimmel's Shorts. From Mira's recommendation, this compendium of short plays attracted the attention of Managing Artistic Director Ralph Meranto in Rochester, who used these as the basis for another production Welcome to the Neighborhood. I also have full-length works, including "Divided Among Themselveswhich was selected as one of 13 finalists by the new Jewish Plays Project in New York and New Jersey (another AJT member theatre) and will soon get a showcased reading by Interplay Theatre (another AJT theatre member) in Ohio. Currently, I am working on a trilogy, The Chosen People about the Jewish experience in America from 1975 to 2015. I have dozens of short plays available for production and they have found wonderful life in the AJT orbit-- including salon theatres, J-Date mixers, fundraising events, nursing homes and, yes, even on stage. I am proud to serve on the AJT Board, and if I had four million dollars of discretionary income, I'd be happy to spend it all on you. Instead, I will gladly share my time, spirit and fellowship.


-- Deb Margolin's Imagining Madoff now being produced in Arlington, MA, was produced by Theatre J, and was part of a workshop at the 2011 AJT Chicago Conference.

---- Post-conference alliances and communications between AJT members from all over the country and the world continue to bring new theatre opportunities.

-- Theodore Bikel's (AJT Honorary Board Member) new movie about his life and his love for Sholom Aleichem literature in performance is slated to be released in New York in May, in time for his birthday.

-- Emily Mann's (2013 Tony Award winner for regional theatres) key-note address continues to have reverberations and resonance from the MINN/ST PAUL AJT Conference
-- Ronda Spinak's (AJT Board Member) Jewish Women's Theatre from LA had an incredible run of Saffron and Rosewater, Songs and Stories From Persian Jewish Women at the 92nd St Y in New York City

--ShPIeL-Performing Identity in Chicago is producing Roslyn Alexander's (performed excerpted solo piece at the 2013 AJT Conference) The Passions of Emma Goldman with Managing Artistic Director, David Chack, directed by Tony Award winning director Dennis Zacek in April-June 2014

Hank Kimmel
Calling for Directors and Theatre Artists
ITsINSTED is proud to invite you to participate in a unique program:  ITsINSTED@ISRAEL 2014!
In 2012 ITsINSTED organized its first forum in Israel for its first cohort of new members and is now promoting the second ITsINSTED program in Israel for a new cohort, to be held October 26 -31, 2014. Run by ITsINSTED members Avivit Shaked and Sharon Gomobsh, ITsINSTED invites 12 new ITsINSTED members and 12 new Israeli young directors, to attend a unique program that gives you the opportunity to meet, mingle, work and party with other young directors from all over the world - and of course, to visit Israel.
What's planned for the program?

  • Professional Workshop- a chance to get a glimpse from the method of a renowned Israeli director
  • Creative work in groups
  • "Work in Progress" meeting (WIP) - A place to share your ideas, future plans or earlier performances
  • Watching performances
  • Young theatre director's panel
  • "Festival Information For All" meeting (FIFA). and A Surprising trip!
  • And much more...

The cost for the program will be €180 (approximately $245) The fee covers:  performances tickets, a trip in Israel, refreshments and organizing costs. During the program you will stay with one of the Israeli directors.

  • Important Note: ITsINSTED will try to help with flight costs for the participants

If you are interested in participating in this exclusive ITsINSTED program- sign up now! You can fill in the registration form on our website at  Applications will be accepted until January 30th, 2014. We hope to meet you in Israel next October, ITsINSTED Team

David Y. Chack, President; Mira Hirsch, Immediate Past President; Vice President; Hannah Hessel, Vice President; Doug Brook, Vice President; Diane Gilboa, Secretary; Susan Lodish, Treasurer. Members-at-large: Sara Bookin-Weiner; Aaron Henne; Hank Kimmel; Leslie Marko; Ronda Spinak; Mel Weiser. Ex Officio - Moti Sandak; Ellen Schiff; Robert Skloot; Theodore Bikel, Honorary Board Member; Coordinator Eli Taylor

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