In an unprecedented display of solidarity among a giant consortium of the American theater’s artistic directors, an open letter has been issued in support of Ari Roth, following his recent dismissal from the Jewish Community Center in Washington, D.C., where he has served as Artistic Director of Theater J for the past 18 years. The letter, released earlier today represents the views of top theater brass from coast-to-coast, who believe that his dismissal was an act of politically motivated censorship in retaliation for Roth’s choice to produce and publicly defend challenging and provocative work.
The letter has been signed by approximately 60 of the most prominent theatrical Artistic Directors in America, including André Bishop (Lincoln Center Theater), Anne Bogart (SITI Company), Art Rotch (Perseverance Theatre), Barry Edelstein (The Old Globe), Bill Rauch (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), BJ Jones (Northlight Theatre), Blanka Zizka (The Wilma Theater), Braden Abraham (Seattle Repertory Theatre), Brian Kulick (Classic Stage Company), Carey Perloff (American Conservatory Theater), Charles Newell (Court Theatre), Chay Yew (Victory Gardens Theater), Chris Coleman (Portland Center Stage), Christopher Ashley (La Jolla Playhouse), Curt Columbus (Trinity Repertory Company), Darko Tresnjak (Hartford Stage), David Herskovits (Target Margin Theater), David Ira Goldstein (Arizona Theatre Company), Emily Mann (McCarter Theatre), Eric Rosen (Kansas City Repertory Theatre), Gordon Edelstein (Long Wharf Theatre), Gregory Boyd (Alley Theatre), Howard Shalwitz (Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company), James Bundy (Yale Repertory Theatre), Jamil Khoury (Founding Artistic Director, Silk Road Rising), Jasson Minadakis (Marin Theatre Company),
Jeffrey Horowitz (Theatre for a New Audience), Jeremy Cohen (The Playwrights’ Center), Jim Houghton (Signature Theatre), Jim Nicola (New York Theatre Workshop), Joe Dowling (Guthrie Theater), Johanna Pfaelzer (New York Stage and Film), John Eisner (Lark Play Development Center), Jonathan Moscone (California Shakespeare Theater), Joseph Haj (PlayMakers Repertory Company), Kent Thompson (Denver Center Theatre Company), Kevin Moriarty (Dallas Theater Center), Kurt Beattie (ACT Theatre), Kwame Kwei-Armah (Center Stage), Les Waters (Actors Theatre of Louisville), Martha Lavey (Steppenwolf Theatre Company), Melanie Joseph (The Foundry Theatre), Mia Katigbak (National Asian American Theatre Company), Michael Kahn (Shakespeare Theatre Company), Michael Ritchie (Center Theatre Group), Michael John Garcés (Cornerstone Theater Company), Michelle Hensley (Ten Thousand Things), Moisés Kaufman (Tectonic Theater Project), Neil Pepe (Atlantic Theater Company), Oskar Eustis (The Public Theater), Patrick Dooley (Shotgun Players), Peter Brosius (Children’s Theatre Company), Raelle Myrick-Hodges (Contemporary Arts Center), Ralph Peña (Ma-Yi Theater Company), Rob Melrose (Cutting Ball Theater), Robert Falls (Goodman Theatre), Sarah Benson (Soho Rep.), Susan Booth (Woodruff Arts Center), Tim Sanford (Playwrights Horizons), Tony Taccone (Berkeley Repertory Theatre), and Wendy Goldberg (National Playwrights Conference, Eugene O’Neill Theater Center).
The contents of the letter are follows:
“We, the undersigned Artistic Directors, are outraged by the action of the JCC in Washington DC in summarily dismissing the long-serving Artistic Director of Theater J, Ari Roth, on the morning of December
”The stated cause was ‘insubordination’, and it is absolutely clear that Roth was fired because of the content of the work he has so thoughtfully and ably championed for the last two decades.
”Ari Roth is a capable, brilliant and inspiring leader of the American non-profit theater. The actions of the JCC, in terminating him for blatantly political reasons, violate the principles of artistic freedom and free
expression that have been at the heart of the non-profit theater movement for over half a century. Such actions undermine the freedom of us all.
”A free people need a free art; debate, dissent, and conflict are at the heart of what makes theater work, and what makes democracy possible. We deplore the actions of the JCC, offer our complete support for Ari Roth,
urge the American theater community to protest these events in all possible ways, and call upon the full Board of the JCC to renounce this action of the Executive Committee of the JCC.”
Artistic Directors who wish to add their names to this letter should email ArtisticDirectorsForAri [at] gmail.com. Members of the general public who wish to show their support should email: UnitedForAri [at] gmail.com.
READ: Mitchell Plitnick On the firing of Ari Roth from Theater J in DC
READ: Reaction from the Entire Team of Theater J’s ‘The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide’ to the Firing of Artistic Director Ari Roth