Reaction to Ari Roth’s Dismissal Articles: New articles in Washington Jewish Week; and American Theatre and ‘A Conversation with Ari Roth’ on DCMTA

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Ari Roth. Photo courtesy of theatreWashington.
Ari Roth. Photo courtesy of theatreWashington.

12/30/14 Update: 

Why Ari Roth Was Fired by Suzanne Pollak in The Washington Jewish Week. Read it Here.

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12/29/14 Update:

Read John Stoltenberg’s interview with Ari Roth: The Imperative to Reconcile’: A Conversation with Ari Roth by John Stoltenberg on DCMetroTheaterArts.

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The Facts on the Ground at Theater J: The backstage drama between D.C.’s influential Jewish theatre and its former artistic director Ari Roth has been as riveting, and as disputed, as anything on its stage. by Isaac Butler in American Theatre. Read it here:

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DCJCC chief: Theater J head Ari Roth not fired over politics by JTA News Desk. Read it here.

12/26/14 Update:

John Stoltenberg’s interview with Ari Roth: The Imperative to Reconcile’: A Conversation with Ari Roth by John Stoltenberg on DCMetroTheaterArts.

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Firing Ari Roth made a fool of U.S. Jewish discourse by By Anton Goodman in Haaretz. Read it here.

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Why Ari Roth Got Fired From Theater J: The story behind the ‘irreconcilable’ differences by Lonnie Firestone in The Tablet. Read it here.

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DCJCC CEO Carole Zawatsky responds to Ari Roth’s firing from the DCJCC.

Dear Members of the Israel Arts Community,

I am in receipt of your letter/petition protesting the firing of Ari Roth. I thank you for expressing your views, and I especially thank you for the deep commitment you have to great art and the future of the DCJCC.

I want to assure you that DCJCC will continue to support Theater J as a vibrant, creative and provocative outlet for great theater. Our commitment to Theater J is as strong as ever, and we will resist any efforts to politicize our creative output. Theater J is one of the crown jewels of the DCJCC.  The quality of the art presented by the theater is a cornerstone of our community, no matter who is employed as Artistic Director.

The DCJCC has a broad commitment to great art and full exploration of important issues related to Israel. Over the past few years, we have invited journalist Ari Shavit, filmmaker Dror Moreh, musicians Yemen Blues, Achinoam Nini and David Broza, playwright Motti Lerner, author David Grossman, and so many others who explore issues related to Israel in often critical ways.

We are proud of this record, and I can assure you that there are many people – our board, our supporters, our community and our leadership – who are committed to such efforts in the years to come. I hope you will be part of our programs.

I want to correct the record on one critical point. Ari Roth was not fired because of his politics or because of outside pressure. Ari Roth’s dismissal related to a pattern of insubordination, unprofessionalism and actions that no employer would ever sanction. He was planning his departure from the DCJCC for many months and had indicated that the 2014-15 season would be his last. He had attempted to force the DCJCC to give up Theater J to his sole control and when that effort failed, he had begun to work on a new venture, while still employed by DCJCC. Despite clear and written warnings about this insubordinate behavior Ari continued to disregard direction from the JCC management. When we reached the conclusion that our relationship with Ari had to end, he was offered an amicable separation with generous severance of six months, positive references and a joint press statement praising his work.  He immediately violated this agreement.

Ari’s creative vision – which included significant works of a political nature – was always defended and supported by Theater J and the DCJCC. Our commitment to challenging theater never wavered. But Ari’s failure to maintain basic professional conduct and standards made it impossible to continue his employee relationship of the DCJCC.

We are hopeful that under a new artistic director, we can pursue the kind of work for which Theater J and the DCJCC have become well-respected in the arts world, without fear of political censure.

Please feel free to follow up with any questions,

Carole Zawatsky, CEO, DCJCC

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Peter Marks in the Washington Post: D.C. Jewish Community Center head details ‘insubordination’ of Ari Roth. Read it here.

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12/24/14 Update:

Over 30 Additional Artistic Directors Sign Open Letter in Support of Ari Roth on BroadwayWorld. Read it here.

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12/23/14 Update:

On The Necessity of Insubordination –An Open Letter in Jewish Voice for Peace. Anonymous Author. Read it here.

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Directors’ Letter Protests Firing of Theater J’s Artistic Director by Michael Paulson in The NY Times. Read it here.

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12/22/14 Update:

Theater J’s Managing Director Rebecca Ende and Acting Artistic Director Shirley Serotsky sent an email out to their subscribers, donors, and other patrons – and also to the broader artistic community in DC. Here is their message:

Dear Friends,

The past several days have been difficult ones at Theater J. We are still absorbing the departure of our Artistic Director of 18 years, Ari Roth. It was his inspirational leadership that shaped the Theater J we all know and love – an award-winning and internationally respected theater that produces thought-provoking work and engages the community in deep and necessary dialogues.

What has not changed at Theater J is the commitment of our entire staff to producing the relevant theater and meaningful discussions that have always characterized our company. We will bring all of the passion, creativity and energy we have to the rest of the 2014-2015 season and beyond.

All of the artists we have committed to deserve to have their artistic visions fully realized. This talented, distinguished, diverse group includes Aaron Posner, Renee Calarco, Jenny Frederick McConnell, Eleanor Holdridge and many, many more. At Theater J, our artists are at the heart of everything we do and that will always be one of our core values.

Now begins the hard work of beginning a new chapter of Theater J that continues and builds on the legacy Ari Roth helped create, and which looks toward an artistically rich and dynamic future. All of us on staff are proudly striving to live-up to these standards. In this time of transition, we must not lose sight of the most essential thing – the art we produce. Please stand with us in support of our artists.

Sincerely,

Rebecca Ende, Managing Director
Shirley Serotsky, Acting Artistic Director
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Peter Marks on Artistic directors’ letter to protest the firing of Ari Roth in The Washington Post:  Artistic directors denounce Roth firing. Read the article here. Read the letter here.

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Anonymous. Jewish Voice for Peace

Ari Roth is interviewed by Polly Carl about his firing in HowlRound.com. Read it here.

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Howard Sherman: Timeline: Ari Roth’s Firing From Washington DC’s Theater J. Read it here.

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Heated Dialogue, Onstage and Off, at Theater J by Lonnie Firestone in American Theatre. Read it here.

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Citing Censorship, Artistic Directors Sign Letter of “Outrage” Over Ousting of Theater J’s Ari Roth; Tony Kushner Issues Scathing Statement by Adam Hetrick and Carey Purcell in Playbill.com. Read it here.

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On the firing of Ari Roth from Theater J in DC by Mitchell Pitnick in “The Third Way Political Analysis.”  Read it here.

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Ari Roth is no longer the Artistic Director of Theater J, as reported by Peter Marks in The Washington Post. Read it here.

Peter Marks has posted another article. Read it here.

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Here are other articles reacting to Ari Roth’s dismissal:

The NY Times

The Washingtonian.

The Jewish Daily Forward.

Modoweiss.com

DCTheatreScene

Mosaic Theater of DC on facebook.

Watch this video of the cast of  Theater J’s The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures reading a statement (after the Friday, December 19th performance) from Tony Kushner and expressing their concerns about the firing of Ari Roth.

We look forward to covering Ari’s new Mosaic Theater‘s productions and wish him well in this new endeavor and to the staff if Theater J as they prepare for their next production.

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Joel Markowitz
Joel Markowitz is the Publisher and Editor of DCMetroTheaterArts. He founded the site with his brother Bruce to help promote the vast riches of theatre and the arts in the DC Metro area that includes Maryland, Virginia, and DC theater and music venues, universities, schools, Children's theaters, professional, and community theatres. Joel is an advocate for promoting the 'stars of the future' in his popular 'Scene Stealers' articles. He wrote a column for 5 years called ‘Theatre Schmooze’ and recorded podcast interviews for DC Theatre Scene. His work can also be seen and read on BroadwayStars. Joel also wrote a monthly preview of what was about to open in DC area theatres for BroadwayWorld. He is an avid film and theater goer, and a suffering Buffalo Bills and Sabres fan. Joel was a regular guest on 'The Lunch and Judy Show' radio program starring Judy Stadt in NYC. Joel founded The Ushers Theatre Going Group in the DC area in 1990, which had a 25-year run when it took its final curtain call last year. Joel is a proud member of The American Critics Association.