Theater J 2018-2019 Season: Around Town

Theater J, the nation’s pre-eminent professional Jewish theater, announces its 2018-2019 season, which will be presented “around town” in top cultural venues throughout the city, as the historic Edlavitch DCJCC building undergoes major renovation.  Learn more and support the renovation.

Subscribers will experience outstanding Theater J productions in four exciting off-site performance spaces.  See below for location details! 

The season begins at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts with the acclaimed The Pianist of Willesden Lane, featuring Mona Golabek performing the story of her mother’s life and career as a concert pianist. Next up, at Arena Stage in the Kogod Cradle is the taut and topical Actually by Anna Ziegler, whose play Photograph 51 was produced by Theater J in 2011. Third is the Pulitzer Prize-winning romance Talley’s Folly by Lanford Wilson at GALA Hispanic Theatre. And finally, the first full production of our Yiddish Theater Lab: The Jewish Queen Lear plays at Georgetown University.

In addition to the four plays we are producing, we are delighted to offer you some exciting “add-ons:” three productions at other distinguished DC theaters.  See Indecent at Arena Stage, Round House Theatre’s Oslo at the Lansburgh Theatre, and Describe the Night at Woolly Mammoth as part of your Theater J package and get preferential seating at a special price–plus free exchanges–before single tickets to these performances go on sale to the general public.

Subscribe now to secure the best prices, seats, and enticing benefits! Call our box office Monday – Friday 1:00-4:00 PM at 202-777-3210 and we’ll make it easy and answer all of your questions.

Theater J’s 2018-2019 Season is funded in part by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, an agency supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Theater J Season Sponsors

Leading Producers

Arlene and Robert Kogod, The Robert and Arlene Kogod Family Foundation

Sponsoring Producers

Cathy S. Bernard
Carolyn June Kaplan
The Morningstar Foundation
Nancy and Saul M. Pilchen
The Revada Foundation
The Share Fund
The Shubert Foundation

Supporting Producers

The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities
Marion Ein Lewin
Hubert M. Schlosberg


Based on the book The Children of Willesden Lane by Mona Golabek and Lee Cohen, adapted and directed by Hershey Felder

September 12-30, 2018
At the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Family Theater
2700 F St NW, Washington, DC.

Set in Vienna in 1938 and London during the Blitzkrieg, The Pianist of Willesden Lane tells the true and inspiring story of Lisa Jura, a young Jewish pianist whose dream of making her concert debut at the storied Musikverein concert hall is dashed by the onset of World War II. Despite devastating personal loss, music enables Jura to endure and pursue her dreams. Performed by Jura’s daughter, Grammy®-nominated pianist Mona Golabek, The Pianist of Willesden Lane combines enthralling story telling with breath-taking live performances of Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, and more.

The Los Angeles Times wrote: “this elegant, heartfelt solo show…is an arresting, deeply affecting triumph.”


By Anna Ziegler, directed by Johanna Gruenhut

October 17 – November 18, 2018
At Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater in the Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle
1101 6th St SW, Washington, DC

Tom and Amber, freshmen at Princeton University, seem to be on the same page about where their relationship is heading, until suddenly they aren’t. What begins as a casual hook up turns into a Title IX trial in which both students have everything to lose. Tackling the highly charged topic of sexual consent, this provocative new play by Anna Ziegler (Photograph 51) investigates the intersection of gender and race in campus politics today, offering a nuanced and psychologically rich portrait of a generation.  Featuring Sylvia Kates and Jaysen Wright.

The Los Angeles Times raved: “Gripping. Beautifully rendered and complex…destined to trigger discussion.”


By Lanford Wilson, directed by Aaron Posner

December 7 – 30, 2018

At GALA Hispanic Theatre
3333 14th St NW, Washington, DC

This Pulitzer Prize-winning romantic comedy is a poignant valentine to unlikely love. On a moonlit night in 1944 Missouri, middle-aged Jewish accountant Matt Freidman has only one chance to win the heart of Sally Talley, a 31-year-old ‘old maid’ from a bigoted Protestant family. After a lifetime of believing they’ll never truly belong in the world around them, Matt and Sally reawaken one another to love, ultimately finding that they do belong – together. Directed by Aaron Posner, Talley’s Folly is a funny and heart-warming theatrical duet.  Featuring Erin Weaver.

The New York Times wrote “…Mr. Wilson is one of our most gifted playwrights…Talley’s Folly is a play to savor and cheer.”


Jacob Gordin’s Mirele Efros, English translation by Nahma Sandrow, Directed by Adam Immerwahr

March 13 – April 7, 2019
At Georgetown University’s Davis Performing Arts Center, in the Gonda Theatre
Located near the main gate at 37th and O Streets, NW, Washington, DC

If it’s not one thing, it’s your mother. Written in 1898, Gordin’s story of power and pride revolves around Mirele Efros, a wealthy widow and clever business woman who wants to find a good wife for her son. When her children turn against her, Mirele experiences a fall of Shakespearean proportions. Wildly successful in its time, Gordin’s masterpiece of Yiddish theater shines in a scintillating new English translation.  Produced in partnership with the Georgetown University Theater and Performance Studies Program.  Featuring Tonya Beckman, Valerie Leonard, Sasha Olinick, Sue Jin Song, and Frank X.

Haaretz wrote: “Unquestionably the representative play of Yiddish Theater.”

Special for this year!  Artistic Director Adam Immerwahr has selected three shows being produced by our peer theaters  (which are not Theater J productions) that complement and expand Theater J’s 2018-2019 season and that Theater J subscribers can add-on to their subscription ticket packages. Pick one, two or all three plays, and get preferential seating at a special price plus free exchanges, before single tickets to these performances go on sale to the general public.


By Paula Vogel

Produced by Arena Stage

1101 6th St. SW, Washington, DC
November 23 – December 30, 2018
Price: $75 (peak), $59 (non-peak)

In 1923, the Broadway debut of Sholem Asch’s Yiddish drama God of Vengeance set the stage for an explosive moment in its theatrical history. The evocative work of Jewish culture was praised and criticized for taboo themes of censorship, immigration and anti-Semitism. Inspired by these true events and the controversy, Pulitzer Prize winner Paula Vogel tells the behind-the-scenes story of the courageous artists who risked their careers and lives to perform a work deemed “indecent.” “Brimming with good faith” (New York Times), this Tony Award-winning intimate and enchanting play filled with music and dance is a testament to the transformative power of art that is timelier than ever before.


By J.T. Rogers

Produced by Round House Theatre at the Lansburgh
450 7th Street NW, Washington, DC
April 24 – May 19, 2019
Price: $65 (peak), $55 (non-peak)

In 1993, unbeknownst to the rest of the world, an audacious husband-and-wife team of Norwegian bureaucrats assembled a motley band of would-be diplomats from the Middle East to attempt the unimaginable: negotiate peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Operating only through back-channels—in secrecy, and without any official bargaining power—the group struggles to find middle ground as political tensions reach a fever pitch. But at the heart of diplomacy lies empathy, and these peacemakers must rely on the strength of the surprising personal bonds they have forged if they want to succeed.


By Rajiv Joseph

Produced by Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company
641 D Street NW, Washington DC
May 25 – June 23, 2019
Price: $58 (peak), $50 (non-peak)

In 1920, Russian Jewish writer Isaac Babel starts a diary while wandering the countryside with the Red Cavalry. In 2010, after the crash of an aircraft carrying the Polish president, his diary is discovered among the wreckage. What did Babel write, and why does it matter so much to one ruthless KGB agent destined to become one of the most powerful figures in the world? Describe the Night traces the stories of seven lost souls connected across decades by history, fiction, lies, and blood. Pulitzer Prize-finalist Rajiv Joseph returns to Woolly after hit productions of Guards at the Taj (2016) and Gruesome Playground Injuries (2010). Winner of the Obie Award for Best New American Theater Work (2018), Describe the Night is a “work of major ambition” (New York Times) that will feel both timeless and tuned in to the age of #FakeNews.

Illustrations by Donald Ely