Impact Stories

Rich and James Peterson, Theater J Subscribers

What first brought you to Theater J?
We first came to Theater J in 1997 when the DCJCC re-opened. What attracts us to Theater J are the first rate, thought-provoking plays that explore topics germane to contemporary issues, such as social justice and its relevance to Jewish culture.

What makes Theater J a special place to come see theater?
For Rich, it was an opportunity to introduce James to legitimate theater and Jewish culture and watch him evolve as a theater patron with an appreciation of the work. Theatre J does an exceptional job taking the material and molding the story and characters into a compelling play.

We enjoy the meet-the-artist and creative team programs and thoroughly enjoy participating in the talk-backs. Talkbacks are very educational. It’s useful when we’re confused about the subject matter or angry or happy about what we witnessed and it’s nice to have the outlet to share. They often provide us additional interpretation and insight into the work.

Additionally, Theater J provides an intimate theatre experience. Theater J productions comes darn close to Broadway without the need to refinance our mortgage!

Why does Theater J matter to you?
We find lessons to be learned by the plays we see at Theater J. Theater J provides us the opportunity to abandon the drama and trauma of any given day and brings us together with other people to share and discuss what’s important in our community. Theater J provides us the opportunity to hear opposing viewpoints and better understand the conflicts. Theater J inspires us to see ourselves and other people differently.

Theater J provides plays that explore the Jewish experience. We feel it’s broadened our horizons and provided James insight into Jewish culture, Jewish law and Yiddish. That said, the themes are frequently universal and therefore relatable to the general human condition.

What do you love about Theater J?
Incredible content that is well-produced and acted, which has resulted in our walking out of a play changed. Theater J makes us think!

Susan Rome, Actor

What first brought you to Theater J?
My first job in DC was at Theater J. Ed Gero recommended me for the Theater J production of Arthur Miller’s The Ride Down Mt. Morgan, directed by the great Leigh Silverman. It was a truly wonderful experience, working with Ed, Tom Simpson, and the wonderful Paula Gruskiewicz.

Why do you keep working at Theater J?
I love Theater J! It is a true artistic home for me. I’m passionate about its mission, and when I come here, I feel as though I am with family; an artistic family who challenges and nurtures me. I have worked with top-notch directors to excavate deep truths about myself through the characters I’ve played here. The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide…, The Argument, and Brighton Beach Memoirs spring to mind as my most exciting and rewarding artistic experiences at the J. Every role makes me a more compassionate human being.

What does Theater J mean to you?
Theater J has been like an artistic gym for me. I get cast in plays and roles that require me to grow and strengthen as an actor, but also examine my Jewishness and what it means to me vis a vis the characters I play. The plays I go to see at Theater J change me as well. The Christians in the ’16-’17 season was a stellar production about issues that move me deeply. Theater J is also an invaluable asset to the Jewish community and the theatrical community in DC and beyond. Theater J is world class!

Louis Delair Jr., Theater J Subscriber

Why do you subscribe to Theater J?
I continue to experience strong performances and stories that represent the social fabric of America and Americans—our good and our bad. The stories are often compelling as a tapestry of American life. I subscribe to acquire experiences that I can share with others—to be able to engage in informed discussions with other like-minded persons regarding live theater. And the greatest of these is the sharing with others. Being able to relate to someone who has not seen the production is personally rewarding me—I recall more about the play each time I relate it to another person. Friends have learned that if they are in a hurry, don’t let me begin talking about a play or any performing arts event!!

You attend a lot of theaters all over town, what makes Theater J special?
I always love the variety of works presented and the caliber of the performers. I have found the emotional investment that I make as an audience member a personal and revelatory experience—suspending belief and melting into the onstage production. So much of Theater J’s work is about family and I can see my family and family members in the work onstage, making it all the more personal. Theater J’s specialty is in the way those many stories are told. There is always very interesting staging, always careful to keep everyone visible and invariably always heard. The Theater J casts are able to bring the audience with them and despite the brevity of the story; the character development is first rate, a credit to the levels of expertise brought to the Theater J stage. The largest plus of Theater J is its touching of the emotional and the heart strings of the patrons. Whether we realize it or not, these actors play upon the violin of our lives and experiences to enable us to imagine our own tune in each experience of the stage. My first Theater J production was The Chosen, held at Arena Stage. The acting was very strong, the story engaging and the staging was creative with a clever use of space. In short, I lived The Chosen because of set design, acting and blocking/staging…making me a Theater J loyalist.

What do you wish more people knew about Theater J?

Theater J, first and foremost, has a patron friendly location. I feel a certain joy of being out in the early afternoon for matinees which are my preferred performances. I do on occasion attend evening performances and enjoy the night air of the northwest corridor of the city. The chatter of other theatre goers as they leave the building provides a camaraderie of theatrical kinship. I have met and chatted with countless patrons, sometimes without asking their name(s)—just resolving into the remembering the experience. The connection of patrons sharing their experience is a great value to the theater (enjoyment), to the patrons (new friends) and to the community/city (greater appreciation for what Washington has to offer. The Theater J experience affords all manner of people the benefit of making new acquaintances—even when you do not want to, the magnetism of the audience experience is powerful and helps you feel good. Theater J, the facility, is easy to navigate and staff is always engaged and friendly! As a production facility, Theater J is inviting and advertises programs and events the community may take advantage of…returning for something other than theater is a great plus when you experience the more complete menu of Theater J offerings, the tenor of a true community institution.