Controversial Director of D.C.’s Theater J Fired

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Ari Roth is leaving Theater J after a period of tension over plays dealing with Israel’s history.

WASHINGTON — Ari Roth, the longtime director at Theater J, is leaving the theater after a period of tension over plays dealing with Israel’s history.
 
The Washington Post and the Washington Jewish Week each reported last week that Roth is saying the Washington, D.C., Jewish Community Center, which oversees the theater, fired him after he refused to leave under terms that would have made it appear the decision was mutual.
 
Roth and the theater drew controversy in recent years over plays dealing with Israel’s founding that dealt with issues such as the allegations of massacres of Palestinians and their displacement.
 
Roth told the Post that the specific reason for his firing was his refusal to adhere to a “communications protocol” over the JCC’s recent decision to cancel an annual “Voices from a Changing Middle East” festival of plays.
 
Theater J depicted the parting as amicable.
 
“Ari Roth has had an incredible 18-year tenure leading Theater J, and we know there will be great opportunities ahead for him,” Carole Zawatsky, the CEO of the JCC said in a news release.
 
Theater J under Roth earned critical acclaim and a national reputation for workshopping plays that went on to garner widespread attention.
 
Roth has said he plans to start a new theater company, Mosaic, which will launch next fall.
 

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