Expanding the Canon

Established in 2022, Theater J’s Expanding the Canon initiative will commission seven extraordinary racially and ethnically diverse Jewish writers to create new full-length plays that thematically and visually center diverse Jewish narratives. This program is for Jews of Color, Multi Racial/Multi Ethnic Jews, Indigenous Jews, and Mizrachi and Sephardic Jews who seek to correct and broaden the historically limited portrayals of Jewishness on stages in the US and around the world. Expanding the Canon is made possible in large part by funds granted by The Covenant Foundation.

Each writer will receive a $10,000 commission to create a new play over two and a half years; each will also have access to a $5,000 developmental budget that can be used for readings, workshops, research, and travel. 

The program will commence in August 2022 with a three-day intensive “Beit Midrash” led by Rosh Beit Sabrina Sojourner, a Shaliakh Tzibur and nationally recognized Jewish leader, and an exceptional teaching faculty. They will guide the cohort of commissioned writers through a curriculum covering Jewish life, philosophy, history, and literature. This intensive introduction will give playwrights access to texts and understandings of Jewish thought and tradition that will inspire them as they begin to craft their plays. Throughout the commission, writers will meet monthly to continue to learn, share additional resources and workshop written material.

Excerpts of the finished scripts will be shared in a final gathering in December 2024. All commissioned scripts will be strongly considered for Theater J mainstage productions.

Applications are now closed. Information about the selected cohort will be announced in the coming months. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Please click here to read about our project leader.

The Expanding the Canon program is made possible in part by a Signature Grant from The Covenant Foundation. The Beit Midrash is made possible in part by a micro-grant from the Jews of Color Initiative. Additional supporters include: Kay Richman and Dan Kaplan, Cheryl Gorelick, Evelyn Sandground and Bill Perkins, and Dr. Kathryn Veal.

The cohort of artists will meet in Washington DC for an immersive three-day Beit Midrash convened by Sabrina Sojourner, herself a Jew of Color and a practicing theater artist. Sojourner will convene an exceptional faculty. This team will guide the writers through a curriculum covering Jewish life, philosophy, history, and literature—intended to give the playwrights access to ancient texts and modern understanding of Jewish thought and tradition that will inspire them and be available to them as they begin to craft their plays. These sessions will be a learning laboratory. They will give the writers the tools to engage with original Jewish sources, to dive into, explore, and develop out of those materials new works that reflect their stories and the stories of communities who have been underrepresented in Jewish theater.

Press inquiries may be sent to stephanie@theaterj.org. Any other questions can be sent to LitOffice@theaterj.org. We will get back to you as quickly as possible!