Founded in 1990 as a program of the Edlavitch DC Jewish Community Center (EDCJCC), Theater J has become “the nation’s most prominent Jewish theater” (American Theatre Magazine). Theater J began with a series of staged readings and productions in 1990 under the leadership of founding Artist Director Martin Blank. Theater J’s initial home was a 50-seat black box theater at 1836 Jefferson Place, NW, the original home of the EDCJCC. In 1993, Artistic Director Randye Hoeflich took the helm, producing the first full season and preparing the theater to move to a larger, permanent home.
In 1997, the EDCJCC moved into its current space, the Irwin P. Edlavitch Building, at 1529 Sixteenth Street, NW, which housed a newly built 238-seat proscenium theater, named for Aaron and Cecile Goldman. Ari Roth was brought on as Artistic Director after the move, growing the theater during his eighteen-year tenure from an annual budget of under $100,000 to a budget of well over a million and a half dollars. During that time, Theater J earned an international reputation as the nation’s premier Jewish theater. In 2005, The New York Times recognized the quality of Theater J’s new play development programs, hailing it as “the premiere theater for premieres.” Theater J also became known for producing work from and about Israel and the Middle East, with the signature Voices from a Changing Middle East Festival.
Artistic Director Adam Immerwahr joined the theater in 2015. Under his leadership, Theater J strives to present a wide variety of recognizable, under-explored, and brand new works from the Jewish theatrical cannon, as well as non-Jewish works that investigate diverse stories about immigrants, language, assimilation, genocide, religion, otherness and other topics that resonate with a diverse set of communities. The 2016-2017 season was the first season under Immerwahr’s programming. 2017 is the inaugural year of the Yiddish Theater Lab, which aims to revitalize the great works of Yiddish theater and make them relevant to modern audiences.