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 AJT Spring Newsletter

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Message From AJT President

Dear Friends,
It is my great pleasure to report back to you after the AJT Retreat that was recently held. This retreat was one of our best since we brought a lot of information supplied by you from the last survey we did of the membership. Our AJT community response was the best we have ever had on a survey - upwards of between 15-20%. Here is a snapshot from what we received: 

• Most who took it split almost evenly between playwrights and directors - artistic, managing, producing; with others being solo performers, writers, etc.

• Most do theatre for its artistic, cultural/historical, and their own Jewish identity meanings.

• The AJT community wants AJTs priorities to be: 1. as a catalyst and connector; 2. to help in the development of new works; 3. to support new and emerging artists. Other goals are connecting with theatres nationwide, funding, tools for theatre management and preserving Jewish theatre.

• For many personal identity is of high value and intertwined with why they do Jewish theatre. One example: “I'm a Jewish artist and I know the value of making my voice heard.” “I also like supporting the work of other Jewish artists. That's whose work I produce." "I think it's critical to keep those voices on the stage, where they can be heard.” "Jewish theatre needs desperately to be innovative. Yes, keep what was, preserve what was, but create anew, if we don't perceptions will never change. I think AJT should be a leader in setting the tone for thinking about theatre in new ways, new forms, new ways to present."

Our next conference in Washington, DC. will now have to shift its date to November 16-19 due to Theatre J's new scheduling and the AJT Board and the committee in Washington, DC will use the survey material in its preparation. We will address the multiple directions that the AJT community represents. We will put a concerted effort in being a better catalyst, connector, developer and supporter. We will also give you an opportunity to express your identity and how that affects the ways you do Jewish theatre and the ways you are seeking innovations in Jewish theatre and performance.

Please feel free to email me with ideas for the future. My direct email is chack@iglou and I look forward to hearing from you.

Have a great Spring and Passover,
David
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  Conference Update
In mid-Janurary a group of interested parties including staff from Theater J, AJT members, and David Chack, the president of the AJT Board, sat down in the community hall at the DCJCC to start planning the next AJT conference. The conversation covered an overview of the previous conferences and many present articulated what would be important for a conference taking place in the DC-metro region. Washington DC has a very strong and active theater community and the issues facing Jewish theater are of interest to those producing theatre for both secular and culturally specific audiences. Because of this, it felt clear that the AJT conference would really thrive having the opportunity to be opened up to the community at large. There are many ways we are hoping to open up the conversations, from making available day-specific à la carte registration options to holding events, or having events moderated, by partners around the city. 

 

In addition a decision was made to focus the conference on the concept of "Adaptation." This could be a running theme that takes many shapes: from workshops on adapting work both from creative and legal perspectives, to conversations about how we as theatre makers adapt, to new models and technology. We also want to make sure that the conference meets the needs of the attending membership and are looking to focus on making connections and interacting with each other. We are very interested to hear from the membership about what they want to gain from the conference or any ideas they have for panels or workshops.

-Hannah Hessel Ratner

Vice President

Hannah-Hessel

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        AJT Spotlight

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Antonia Lassar
 is first and foremost a Beyoncé enthusiast. She is also an actor, poet, musician, and playwright currently based in Brooklyn. Antonia spends some of her time touring her one-woman show God Box around the country to engage great people in interfaith dialogue. With God Box, Antonia has recently performed and led workshops with Horse Trade Theatre, Rice University, Gettysburg College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and places of worship around the country. Antonia is a founding member of SixTee Collective, a theatre company of hilarious ladies. They will premier a new play about Tina Fey and Amy Poehler this February at the NYC Frigid Festival, called Tina and Amy: Last Night in Paradise. Also, with her fabulous boyfriend Artem Yatsunov, she is part of the ukulele comedy duo Pair of Animals, who will be making their way around Canada this summer. She is originally from Boston, and has a BFA in Theatre Arts from Boston University. 

 

What has been my favorite AJT experience?
It was such a pleasure to attend the 2013 AJT conference! I was impressed with everyone I met and the fantastic panels and events we went to. But my favorite moment I've had with AJT was actually getting to eat a casual Thai dinner with a few of the other conference attendees. We spent the night bonding over food (what Jew doesn't?) and discussing our spiritual lives. It was an unexpectedly poignant moment and brought us closer as artists and friends. Moments of true friendship like this are what makes AJT so special to me. It's so important to feel like one's theatre community supports you not only as an artist, but also as a friend.
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