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New and Noteworthy


CurtainUp/DC/ New & Noteworthy, by Susan Davidson

November 3, 2015 Update: The Mosaic theater opens
Washington's newest theater, Mosaic, has made its entrance in NE Washington. Less than a year in the making, Mosaic has risen from the ashes of Artistic Director Ari Roth's departure from Theater J. Along with Managing Director and Producer Serge Seiden, who used to be at Studio Theater, and Resident Director Jennifer L. Nelson, and Roth have assembled a multi-cultural group of 38 actors to perform an impressive season of challenging plays. Just as he did at Theater J, Roth has also programmed talkback sessions with playwrights and a Peace Cafe where tough opposing opinions can be discussed in a civilized manner.

The first show of Mosaic's first season is Unexplored Interior, a rambling, non-linear play by Jay O. Sanders about the conflict between the Hutus and the Tutsis that led to genocide in Rwanda, which could have been avoided according to the head of UN Peace Keeping forces in Rwanda but his pleas fell on deaf ears. That mantra best describes Mosaic's serious mission -- to bring attention to that which is neither entertaining nor pretty such as Voices from a Changing Middle East Festival: The War Comes Home to examine Israeli, Arab and American sides to issues the region continues to experience.

For additional information about the Mosaic Theater Company of DC, at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002; 202-399-7993, visit

Something quite extraordinary is going on in Washington and that is the Women's Voices Theater Festival: 50 world premieres of works by 50 women playwrights at 50 theaters. If you don't believe me, check it out:

Some of the authors are Washington-based: Karen Zacarias, whose Destiny of Desire will be at Arena Stage from September 11 to October 18; Queens Girl in the World, a sort of autobiography by Caleen Sinnette Jennings at Theater J; an adaptation of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, by former Washington Post Theater Critic Lloyd Rose at Synetic, Erma Brombeck: At Wit's End, by the Engel sisters, Margaret and Allison, at Arena Stage,and Stay Awake, a puppet show by Mary Hall Surface at Atlas Performing Arts Center.

Most notable among the premieres of plays/adaptations of works by playwrights not living in Washington, are Yael Farber's Salome, based on stories from the Bible and from Oscar Wilde, at the Shakespeare Theatre, Women Laughing Alone With Salad, at Woolly Mammoth, and Animal, by Clare Lizzimore at Studio Theatre. The splendid actress Juliette Binoche will be at the Kennedy Center all too briefly, October 22 to 25, portraying Antigone, in a new translation by poet Anne Carson. And the list goes on and on.

Obviously the Festival will not ameliorate the current gender gap in the production of plays written by women but the organizers hope that the idea will catch on and other cities will create similar festivals.

Entrances and Exits

After much sturm und drang last winter, caused by numerous disagreements with the conservative board of the Jewish Community Center that houses Theater J, Artistic Director Ari Roth left Theater J. Since then he has started start his own company, Mosaic, housed at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, where he is ably assisted by Managing Director and Producer Serge Seiden (formerly of Studio Theatre) and Resident Director Jennifer Nelson. Still committed to diversity as well as more than one side of an issue, Mosaic has a very interesting line up of plays for its first season including a new play by Motti Lerner (author of The Admission) After the War. For details, Meanwhile, Theater J lives on with a full season that includes plays by Abigail Pogrebin, Wendy Wasserstein and an adaption for the stage of David Grossman's fascinating novel, Falling Out of Time.

Call it the luck of the Irish if you will. Matt Torney, of Belfast, directed two plays at Studio Theatre in 2011, a gig that led to Torney's joining Studio this past summer as Associate Director. His background will certainly help Artistic Director David Muse who has a knack for finding and producing new or newish plays by playwrights from the British Isles. The season begins with London-based Lucy Kirkwood's Chimerica.

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